Drone manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has established a new Center of Excellence for its Additive Design and Manufacturing (AD&M).
The facility is focused on rapid-reaction manufacturing of GA-ASI’s line of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) using fully functional and flight-ready Additive Manufacturing (AM) applications, research and development, large-scale tooling, and next-generation flight hardware. The company had set up a dedicated AM department five years ago.
“GA-ASI is continually looking for ways to enable, accelerate, and integrate Additive Manufacturing technologies into our designs, our operations, and our products,” said GA-ASI President David R. Alexander. “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.”
GA-ASI has qualified over 300 flight components across the different AM modalities used for production. It estimates that the use of AM parts on its new UAS platform – the MQ-9B – has saved the company over $2 million in tooling costs and over $300,000 per aircraft in recurring cost avoidance by using approximately 240 AM parts on that aircraft platform.
The company already has more than 10,000 additively manufactured components on the aircraft it has produced, and the new MQ-9B SkyGuardian and SeaGuardian models are leading the industry in the use of AM parts.
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