3D Printing Drives Manufacturing Innovation at Lockheed Martin


Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Space Systems, delivered the keynote address at AIAA SciTech on January 14, 2014.  Innovating for an Era of Affordability: The Future of the Space Industry focused on how Lockheed Martin is adopting innovative approaches in manufacturing to help customers meet their mission needs.

Lockheed Martin is implementing 3D printing and 3D pathfinding simulation technology to improve affordability and operational excellence throughout the entire lifecycle of our products.

Transforming Production with the Digital Tapestry
Next-generation digital manufacturing technologies are redefining Lockheed Martin’s production cycle, forming the company’s “digital tapestry,” a seamless digital environment driven by integrated Model Based Engineering (MBE) tool set that keeps the digital data intact from conceptualization to realization.

3D Printing Satellite Parts
Lockheed Martin is implementing 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, to print titanium satellite parts – reducing cost, cycle time and material waste. 3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional objects directly from a computer model. This process is achieved using an additive process. A material, such as titanium, is heated and then applied in successive layers to create almost any shape. When a product is printed using additive manufacturing, waste is minimized and cycle time is drastically reduced. Lockheed Martin is currently using this process to develop printed satellite parts and plans to continue expanding the process in the future to complex parts and maybe even full satellites.

Virtual Pathfinding with 3D Simulation Technology
By using 3D pathfinding simulation technology called the Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory (CHIL), Lockheed Martin can identify areas to improve affordability and operational excellence throughout the entire lifecycle of our products. The CHIL is an advanced virtual reality and simulation laboratory that offers a smarter, cheaper and lower risk opportunity in building space systems, including satellites, exploration spacecraft, launch vehicles and missile defense systems. The facility enables virtual creation before the physical creation to improve the affordability of our products and associated processes. Lockheed Martin is applying this innovative technology across the business’s programs to improve production processes.



January 15, 2014


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