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Exotic Metals Forming Division began in 1963 with the creation of titanium sheet metal flanges. Today, the organization continues to be a leader in the forming of specialty metals in the aerospace industry as an expert using titanium and nickel alloys. These high-strength metals are corrosion resistant at high temperatures, making them ideal for aerospace applications. Also, these materials’ characteristics make them difficult to form, requiring specialized infrastructure and innovative proprietary processes. Exotic continues to refine and develop ways to form these alloys using specialized manufacturing processes.
Exotic employs a cradle-to-grave engineering philosophy. Engineers take a project from concept to full-rate production and support throughout the product lifecycle. A project begins with the engineering team providing technical leadership in quoting, manufacturing design, process development, and tooling design. Engineers use the latest CAD and simulation software, including Siemens NX and ANSYS. They develop tooling processes and work with our in-house tool and die shop.
Customer focus and quality are key components of the cradle-to-grave engineering philosophy. Engineer teams work collaboratively in all stages of process development. With forward-thinking, a collaborative mindset, and advanced technology, the engineering teams create manufacturing processes and product design solutions that best match our customers' needs.
The following are examples of the manufacturing technology, equipment, tools, and the process followed to form, trim, and assemble parts today and how Exotic works to advance their technology for the future.
Exotic first used an axial load bulge in the forming process. Bulge forming seals raw material inside of a die cavity and is pressurized until the raw material takes the shape of the die cavity.
Hydroforming uses a pressurized bladder that pushes a flat piece of raw material into a contoured die cavity. The contoured punch is also used to force a flat piece of raw material into the pressurized bladder, forming it to the punch contour.
Exotic uses many other processes to turn raw material into a complete part. Raw material arrives as sheet stock, which may be rolled and welded into tubing using an automated longitudinal seam welder or cut into a dimension blank using a flat pattern laser or waterjet. To form successfully, Exotic has developed welding techniques to optimize the formability of welds.
Several unique forming processes are used at Exotic. One of those processes is superplastic forming. A piece of raw material and die are heated until the raw material is in a superplastic state. One side of the die is then pressurized using gas to force the raw material into the contour on the other half of the die.
Manufacturing technology: material trimming
The teams at Exotic have developed industry-leading capability and knowledge in the area of laser trimming. Primary trimming tools at Exotic are a suite of six-axis laser cutters. The lasers are capable of a high average power output, which allows for quick continuous cuts. These tools are used in trimming formed subassemblies and final processing of assemblies.
Manufacturing technology: assembly
A variety of welding processes are used at Exotic to join details to form complete assemblies. The following types of welding processes are used to create complex assemblies; tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding performed manually and automated, seam, laser, and plasma welding.
Manual riveting is used at Exotic alongside robotic-riveter machines to automatically drill, countersink fastener holes, load, and squeeze rivets for assembly with fasteners.
Development of technology at Exotic
The advanced technology and automation team at Exotic is dedicated to developing new technologies to improve manufacturing processes continuously. Examples include retrofitting manual-operated forming equipment with electronic controls; improving the accuracy of forming operations; installing a robotic parts mover to deliver material around facilities without human involvement; and incorporating additive manufacturing into the growing list of capabilities.
The Exotic engineering and manufacturing teams remain committed to pushing the boundaries of what's possible by developing new processes and technologies to maintain our position as the industry leader in sheet metal assembly fabrication. Exotic celebrates our past, enjoys the present, and looks forward to the future.
Article contributed by members of the Engineering Team at Exotic Metals Forming Division.
10 Apr 2021
Have you been frustrated with going through multiple design iterations when rubber components are failing due to high stresses or your device has been leaking due to insufficient compression? Have you lost months and months of precious time having to recut tools and make design changes?
FEA takes out the guesswork
Finite element analysis (FEA) is an effective tool used in design iterations. It allows for different design ideas, options, and alterations to be quickly, effectively, and precisely compared.
Using FEA can improve both the speed and quality of product design as well as reduce the overall cost. Rubber parts, such as silicone diaphragms, septums, seals, valves, tubing, and balloons are critical components in today’s medical devices that can benefit from the use of FEA. It can be an excellent design tool to improve the functional performance of these devices. FEA for rubber products is actually far more complex than for metal or plastic products. It requires sophisticated nonlinear FEA software - such as MSC Marc - as well as a good understanding of the material behavior, material modeling, and testing requirements.
Rubber is highly stretchable, flexible, and durable. This blend of elastic properties differentiates rubber from other materials and makes it one of the best choices for many components in medical devices. However, it’s important to note that rubber materials are not 100 percent elastic because they can develop compression sets and force decay, causing eventual performance degradation and shorter useful life.
Nonlinear FEA for rubber products
Normally, there are three types of nonlinearities encountered: kinematic nonlinearity, material nonlinearity, and boundary nonlinearity. Additionally, rubber products are often subject to large deformations. Whenever material experiences large deformations at least two kinds of nonlinearity - kinematic and material - are involved.
Commonly used nonlinear material models in FEA are elastoplastic models for metals and plastics and hyperelastic models for rubber. in addition, the boundary nonlinearity is usually associated with large deformations.
What are the best test modes to use? One basic engineering rule should apply: always design and perform tests that most closely simulate the actual application conditions that the finished component or device will experience.
Rubbers are almost incompressible
In general, rubber materials are considered nearly incompressible, simply because their volume change is negligible for most applications as a result of that their bulk modulus (105 psi) being several orders larger than their shear modulus (102 psi). The rubber material is actually much more compressible than metal in a confined state (the bulk modulus of typical steel is 107 psi). This understanding is very important to the design considerations of elastomeric products, especially when thermal expansion, limited groove space, or compression of high aspect ratio parts are involved.
Simulation accuracy and relativity
Many factors affect the accuracy and reliability of FEA results, such as material modeling, geometry simplification, and numerical methods. FEA is mostly used in design iterations for which relative comparison is sufficient in the majority of instances. When analysis results are interpreted in a relative sense, different design ideas, options, or modifications can be compared effectively and accurately, and most importantly, rapidly. Furthermore, some tested cases may already exist and can be used as references.
FEA improves product design
FEA is a powerful tool for the development of rubber components for medical devices. The proper use of FEA can minimize physical prototyping and provide for concurrent engineering. It greatly improves both the speed and the quality of product design, as well as provides cost savings.
Parker has more than 20 years of testing experience with FEA. For more information on Parker‘s use of FEA watch our detailed video - Accelerating Your Launch: Reducing Design Iterations with FEA.
Check out all of our Sealing solutions for Life Science applications including featured applications for Diabetes Care, Surgical, Respiratory, Drug Delivery Systems, and more!
This post was contributed by Albena Ammann, life science development engineer, Engineered Materials Group, Parker Hannifin.
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7 Apr 2021
What do you do when your production and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) teams are faced with unscheduled demand for new equipment and overhaul/repair services from a customer supporting the United States military? Especially when you are required to cut lead times in half?
The answer: collaborate with your customer, thoroughly analyze data, sharpen lean processes, and get creative with supply chain strategy to hit the target. Then, in this case, the customer recognizes the success of your efforts.
GA-ASI MQ-9, Avenger, and Gray Eagle increasing landing cycles
The Aircraft Wheel & Brake Division (AWBD) of Parker Aerospace is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of wheels and brakes for the MQ-9, Avenger, and Gray Eagle remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) built by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI). Parker has enjoyed a long relationship with GA-ASI, providing not only OEM equipment but also overhaul and maintenance services for the fielded product.
As the GA-ASI aircraft have been called to fly more missions for the United States Air Force and Army, the number of aircraft landing and braking cycles and demand for new aircraft has grown. This growth led to a surge in order requirements which required AWBD to respond quickly and decisively to deliver in an aggressive time frame.
Leaning forward to reduce production lead times
As deployment of remotely-piloted aircraft grew, the need for new production wheels and brakes increased. Customer GA-ASI asked Parker to initially double, and ultimately triple, the number of deliveries per month to meet this requirement.
Lead times for new complex production orders, including the manufacture of forged and machined components plus assembly and testing, can take many months. Though not an uncommon reality for highly engineered products, the customer can encounter unscheduled demand due the aircraft’s success in the field. It was calculated that the greater need could only be met by cutting lead times by at least 50 percent.
With this increase in demand and the timeframe required, it became apparent that a key impediment to success was the procurement of long-lead components, especially forged parts. Traditionally, the AWBD team would order forged parts when an order requiring them was in-house; this usually added weeks to the lead time. In the case with GA-ASI, AWBD’s supply chain team was able to adjust their forecast model and commit to carrying inventory for a number of long-lead parts, saving critical time.
Using Lean principles to improve in-service support
The Parker team has continued to refine every aspect of its support to consistently meet customer expectations. With increased sorties comes increased demand for support, which is where Parker’s culture of continuous improvement can ensure operational capability and capacity. To keep up with increased demand, AWBD developed a prioritized overhaul schedule that was cost effective and ensured that necessary repairs were done on time. Additional AWBD kaizen events have yielded improved product flow through the repair station and cut turnaround times by nearly 70 percent.
Collaboration key to improving lead time
In both new production and field support, gaining a clear understanding of the hurdles to meet customer objectives was paramount to implementing change. And that took a concerted effort between the Parker and GA-ASI teams. Starting with forecasting data from the customer, the teams expanded their insight into which wheel and brake components needed to be ordered in advance and which would require repair or replacement.
“When we were faced with the need to shrink lead times and improve turnaround time for GA-ASI repairs, we naturally opened dialogue with the customer. We saw an opportunity for the Parker and customer teams to examine a broad range of data and meaningfully engage, aligning our systems while optimizing what we do and how we do it.”
– Mark Harbison, key account manager, Parker Aerospace
Sign of success: AWBD team acknowledged for its efforts
In recognition of their commitment and work required to support increasing demand over multiple years, GA-ASI recognized Parker AWBD for its outstanding support. The Parker Aircraft Wheel & Brake team was presented with a banner from GA-ASI that thanked them for the outstanding support. The banner proudly hangs in the AWBD facility as a reminder of a job well done and the value in providing premier customer service.
This post was contributed by Justin Hodges, business development manager, Parker Aerospace, Aircraft Wheel & Brake Division.
6 Apr 2021