For testing, the US military printed a titanium mount to the wing of a convertoplane using titanium by direct laser-sintering. At the same time, a strain gauge was mounted on the bracket itself, designed to register possible deformation of the part. Each of the two engines of the convertible Osprey MV-22 is attached to the wing using four such brackets. At the same time, at the time of the first test flight of the convertoplan, which took place on 1 August 2016, only one bracket mounted on the 3D printer was installed on it. Earlier it was reported that on the convertiplane were also installed printed by the method of three-dimensional printing mount nacelles.
The development of parts printed for a tiltrotor was carried out by the Combat Application Center aviation US Navy, located at the joint base of McGuire-Dicks-Lakehurst in New Jersey. Osprey MV-22 flight tests with printed parts were performed on the basis of the US Navy Patxent River, the tests were recognized by the military as completely successful. The US military believes that due to the widespread introduction of three-dimensional printing technology in the future will be able to quickly and relatively cheaply produce spare parts for tiltrotor aircraft. In this case, the necessary details can be printed directly on the ships. In addition, the printed parts can then be modified in order to improve the performance of on-board units and systems.
Printed titanium engine mount
The US military was interested in three-dimensional printing technologies a few years ago, but until recently, the functionality of 3D printers was not so wide that it could be used in everyday mode to build fairly complex parts. Convertop parts were created using an additive printing 3D printer. The item is manufactured gradually in layers. Every three layers of titanium dust are sealed with a laser, this process is repeated as long as necessary to get the desired shape. After completion, the excess is cut off from the part; The item received is completely ready for use. Since the tests were completed successfully, the US military will not stop there, they are going to build 6 more important elements of the convertoplan, half of which will also be titanium, and the other - steel.
Three-dimensional printing in Russia and the world
Despite the fact that the printer type of production was successfully implemented in the USA and Russia several years ago, the creation of elements for military equipment is in the process of refinement and testing. First of all, this is due to the very high demands placed on all military products, mainly in terms of reliability and durability. Nevertheless, success in this area was achieved not only by Americans. For the second year now, Russian designers have been manufacturing parts for automatic machines and pistols under development using three-dimensional printing technology. New technologies save valuable time on drawings. And putting such parts on the stream can provide quick field replacements, in repair battalions, since the need to wait for parts from the factory to be received for the same tanks or unmanned aerial vehicles.
For submariners, military 3D printers will simply be worth their weight in gold, since during autonomous long voyage, replacement of parts by the forces of the submariners themselves will give the submarine an almost inexhaustible resource. A similar situation is observed with the ships sailing to sea, icebreakers. Most of these ships will soon receive drones, which over time will require repair or complete replacement. If an 3D printer appears on the ship that allows you to quickly print spare parts, then in a few hours the equipment can be used again. In the conditions of short-term operations and high mobility of the theater of military operations, the local assembly of various parts, assemblies and mechanisms on the spot will allow maintaining a high level of efficiency of support units.
While in the US, the military are launching their convertoplanes, the Russian manufacturers of the Armata tank have been using the industrial printer for the Uralvagonzavod for the second year. With it, parts are produced for armored vehicles, as well as civilian products. But so far, such parts are used only for prototypes, for example, they were used to create the Armata tank and its tests. In the Kalashnikov Concern, as well as in TsNIITOCHMASH, commissioned by the Russian military, the designers make various parts of the rifle weapons from metal and polymer chips on 3D printers. The Tula Instrument Engineering Design Bureau named after Shipunov, famous for the CPB, which is known for a rich assortment of manufactured weapons: from pistols to high-precision missiles, is not far behind them. For example, a perspective pistol and an automatic gearbox, which is designed to replace AK74M and APS special forces soldiers, is assembled from high-strength plastic parts that are printed on a printer. For some military products in the PBC have already been able to create a mold, currently serial production of products is being worked out.
In conditions when a new arms race is observed in the world, the timing of the release of new types of weapons becomes important. For example, in armored vehicles only the process of creating a layout and transfer from the drawings to the prototype usually takes a year or two times. When developing submarines, this period is already in 2 times more. “The technology of three-dimensional printing will reduce the time by several times to several months,” notes Alexey Kondratyev, an expert in the field of the navy. - Designers will be able to save time on the drawings when designing on the computer 3D-model and immediately make a prototype of the desired part. Very often, the details are reworked taking into account the tests and in the process of refinement. In this case, you can release the assembly instead of the part and check all the mechanical characteristics, how the parts interact with each other. In the end, the timing of the prototype will allow designers to reduce the total time for the first finished sample to reach the testing stage. Nowadays, the creation of an atomic submarine of a new generation requires about 15-20 years of time: from a sketch to the last propeller during assembly. With the further development of industrial three-dimensional printing and the launch of mass production of parts in this way, time can be reduced at least 1,5-2 times.
According to experts, modern technologies are today one to two years from the mass production of titanium parts on 3D printers. It is safe to say that by the end of 2020, military representatives at the enterprises of the military-industrial complex will receive equipment that will be assembled at 30-50% using 3D printing technology. In this case, the greatest value for scientists is the creation on the 3D-printer of ceramic parts that are characterized by high strength, lightness and heat-shielding properties. This material is very widely used in the space and aviation industries, but can be used in even larger quantities. For example, creating a ceramic engine on an 3D printer opens up horizons for creating hypersonic airplanes. With such an engine, a passenger plane could fly from Vladivostok to Berlin in a couple of hours.
It is also reported that American scientists invented a resin formula specifically for printing in 3D printers. The value of this formula is in the high strength of the materials obtained from it. For example, such a material can withstand critical temperatures that exceed 1700 degrees Celsius, which is ten times higher than the stability of many modern materials. Stephanie Tompkins, who holds the post of director of scientific management in advanced defense research, estimates that new materials created on 3D printers will have unique combinations of features and properties that have not yet been used. According to Tompkins, thanks to new technologies we will be able to get a strong piece that has a small mass and huge size. Scientists believe that the production of ceramic parts on the 3D printer will mean a scientific breakthrough, including in the manufacture of civilian products.
The first Russian 3D satellite
Currently, with the help of three-dimensional printing technology, parts are already being successfully manufactured right on board the space stations. But domestic experts decided to go even further, they immediately decided to create a microsatellite using the 3D printer. Rocket and Space Corporation "Energy" has created a satellite, housing, bracket and a number of other parts of which were printed on the 3D-printer. At the same time, an important clarification is that the microsatellite was created by Energia engineers together with students of Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU). The first printer satellite received the full name "Tomsk-TPU-120" (the 120 number in the name in honor of the university's 120 anniversary, which was celebrated in May of the 2016 year). It was successfully launched into space in the spring of 2016, together with the Progress MS-02 spacecraft, the satellite was delivered to the ISS and then launched into space. This unit is the first and only 3D satellite in the world.
The satellite, created by TPU students, belongs to the class of nanosatellites (CubSat). It has the following dimensions 300х100х100 mm. This satellite became the world's first spacecraft, the body of which was printed using three-dimensional printing technology. In the future, this technology can be a real breakthrough in the creation of small satellites, as well as make their use more accessible and popular. The design of the spacecraft was developed in the research and education center "Modern production technologies" TPU. The materials from which the satellite was produced were created by scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University and the Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science of the SB RAS. The main purpose of the satellite was to test new technologies of space materials science, it will help Russian scientists to test several developments of the Tomsk University and its partners.
According to the press service of the university, the launch of the Tomsk-TPU-120 nanosatellite was planned to be carried out during the cosmonaut's exit from the ISS into open space. The satellite is a fairly compact, but at the same time, a full-fledged spacecraft with batteries, solar panels, onboard radio equipment and other instruments. But its main feature was that its body was printed on an 3D printer.
Different nanosatellite sensors will record the temperature on board, on batteries and circuit boards, the parameters of electronic components. All this information will then be transmitted to Earth online. According to this information, Russian scientists will be able to analyze the state of satellite materials and decide whether they will use them in the development and construction of spacecraft in the future. It is worth noting that an important aspect of the development of small spacecraft is also the training of new personnel for the industry. Today, students and teachers of the Tomsk Polytechnic University with their own hands develop, produce and improve the design of various small spacecraft, while receiving not only high-quality fundamental knowledge, but also the necessary practical work skills. This is what makes graduates of this educational institution unique specialists in the future.
The future plans of Russian scientists and industry representatives are the creation of a whole “swarm” of university satellites. “We are saying today that it is necessary to motivate our students to study everything that, one way or another, is connected with space - these could be energy, materials, and the creation of new generation engines, etc. We discussed earlier that the interest in space in the country has faded somewhat, but it can be revived. To do this, you need to start not even from the student's bench, but from the school one. Thus, we have embarked on the path of developing and producing CubeSat - small satellites, ”the press service of the Tomsk Polytechnic University reports, citing the rector of this institution of higher education, Peter Chubik.