General Atomics Opens Additive Manufacturing Center

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), a subsidiary of General Atomics, is an American designer and manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Over the past decade, the company has invested in integrating new technologies into their services. In an exciting development for 3D printing, GA-ASI has established a new center dedicated to additive design and manufacturing. It will focus specifically on creating its UAS line using additive manufacturing, research and development, tooling and next-generation flight hardware. The company does not specify which additive manufacturing processes are planned to be used.

Commenting on the decision, GA-ASI President David R. Alexander, stated “GA-ASI is continually looking for ways to enable, accelerate, and integrate Additive Manufacturing technologies into our designs, our operations, and our products. Through our AD&M Center of Excellence, we’re using a structured and stringent qualification process for AM applications that delivers a positive business case for us over conventional manufacturing methods. Through a comprehensive and holistic approach, our team of AM professionals are working to increase the adoption of AM parts for the benefit of our aircraft and ultimately, our customers.”

General Automatics

The MQ-9B SkyGuardian, General Automatics’ new aircraft model (photo credit: GA-ASI)

General Atomics Accelerates its Development

In order to develop solutions for flight-ready 3D printed parts, General Automatics Aeronautical Systems has accelerated its research the advancement of 3D printing within the company. This was complemented by the establishment of an applications team specializing in new technologies and a defined roadmap. Generally, the idea has been to know which components could be 3D printed. Up until this point, it has qualified more than 300 flight components on the various additive manufacturing processes used for production.

In terms of cost, GA-ASI estimates that the use of additive manufacturing on the company’s MQ-9B model has saved over $2 million in tooling and $300,000 per aircraft. Overall, the number of applications continues to grow rapidly, and this latest center will further this growth. The company already has more than 10,000 additively manufactured components on the aircraft it has produced. The new MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian models will also incorporate additive technology. These combat aircraft will be used for land and sea surveillance to support the US armed forces. You can find out more in the press release HERE.

*All Photo Credits: General Atomics



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