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NAWCmADE Innovation Program visits NAWCAD Lakehurst

A research robot with robotic manipulation capability on the move inside the RISE Laboratory.(U.S. Navy Photo)

A research robot with robotic manipulation capability on the move inside the RISE Laboratory.(U.S. Navy Photo)

Nov 7, 2017

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Mechanical engineer Michael Confessore helps ESDP Parth Patel look at a training system through a virtual reality headset in the CREATIVE Lab. (U.S. Navy Photo)

Mechanical engineer Michael Confessore helps ESDP Parth Patel look at a training system through a virtual reality headset in the CREATIVE Lab. (U.S. N ...

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. - Engineer and Scientist Development Program (ESDP) participants from Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Patuxent River, Maryland, recently visited NAWCAD Lakehurst, New Jersey, under the sponsorship of the NAWCmADe Innovation Team to observe 3-D modeling and additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities and to learn how Lakehurst innovates to expedite manufacturing and repairs.

RISE Laboratory

At the Robotics and Intelligent Systems Engineering (RISE) Laboratory, the ESDPs met Kyle Hart, a mechanical engineer with Lakehurst’s Advanced Projects Branch, who explained that the RISE Lab researches the use of robotics, automation and artificial intelligence to optimize workload and increase the productivity of fleet personnel.

The RISE Lab also tests autonomous and semi-autonomous SE and information technologies, and is currently looking at ways to use robotics to move ordnance across carrier flight decks, lay down matting for expeditionary airfields, and move equipment in carrier hangar bays.

One success so far, in collaboration with Lakehurst’s Airborne Weapons Support Equipment (AWSE) Branch, is a mechanized version of an ordnance skid used to move bombs and missiles across the flight deck so they can be loaded on aircraft. Remote control is used to tell the robotic skid where to go and the robot figures out how to get there and return while avoiding obstacles. The ESDPs had the opportunity to drive this research robot using PlayStation controls.

“The [RISE] team mentioned [their] ability to harvest codes from other users that are using the same software, [allowing] them to make great progress,” said Marisa Roof from Patuxent River’s Acquisition Management Systems Branch. “The concept of sharing software and codes internally will be a practice I incorporate as I build a virtual collaborative workplace for our Professional Development Council.”

Innovation Challenge

The group was also given a success story by Team INCANTATION (INfusion of CArbon NanoTubes in Additive manufacturing Technologies In Operations of the Navy) comprised of four mechanical engineers: Dr. Ron Poveda from the Science and Technology Branch ; Pat Thompson from the Air Capable Ships and Amphibious Assault Ships ALRE Branch; Igor Bezsonov from the SE Systems Engineering Branch and Michael Rossini from the Business Operations Office of the Prototyping and Manufacturing Division (PMD). Their innovation challenge was to grow carbon nanotubes (CNT) on aluminum metal powder used in AM.

During the course of the project, the team had the opportunity to collaborate with the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Labs. This feasibility study proved it was possible to combine AM, nanotechnology and composite engineering to print metallic composite materials. Next steps will include experimenting with different powders, such as steel and titanium, and improving the mechanical properties (thermal, stability, fatigue, electrical connectivity, etc.) of printed materials. The ideal end state is to be able to manufacture actual metal parts that can be used to repair aircraft and other equipment.

Jaleesa Needham, a materials engineer in Patuxent River’s Air Vehicles Department, found this part of the tour to be particularly interesting.

“The Innovation Challenge Team presentation on using CNT to improve strength characteristics directly addresses a key issue of improving the mechanical properties of AM prints,” Needham said.

Metal AM

As part of the PMD tour, the group visited the Metal AM Laboratory, which has a metallic AM powder bed printing system.

Mechanical engineer Kyle Cobb, the project team lead for AM within PMD, provided an overview of the EOS M290 powderbed AM system, the materials used in the machine (stainless steel, steel, titanium, aluminum and nickel alloy), the printing process itself, post-processing requirements and the limitations and design considerations of AM. Cobb’s shop has printed a number of SE and ALRE parts, such as two hydraulic manifolds for the V-22, which worked extremely well. Cobb was directly involved with printing a flight-critical titanium engine link and fitting for the V-22 Osprey that was flight tested successfully last year.

Plans are underway to print a titanium bracket for the T-64 engine that powers the CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter, clevis and lug latches for the CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopter and a stainless steel uniball suppressor support and engine mount fitting for H-1 helicopters, including the AH-1Z Viper.

CREATIVE Laboratory

The CREATIVE Laboratory (Collaborative Research, Engineering, Analysis and Training In Immersive Virtual Environments) within Lakehurst’s Peculiar Support Equipment (PSE) Branch employs commercially-available virtual and augmented reality technology to develop computer-based systems for ALRE and SE, as well as other special projects.

One of those projects is a three-year endeavor done in conjunction with Lakehurst’s science and technology branch to provide landing signal officers (LSO) with augmented reality decision aids while observing aircraft carrier arrestments. Winston Moy, a mechanical engineer within the lab, built a virtual LSO simulator for this rapid prototyping effort. The LSOs liked the glasses but suggested some modifications to the color scheme and the icons displayed.

After trying out the LSO glasses, the ESDPs were briefed on a training system being constructed for the Turboprop Test Instrumentation (TPTI) group within Program Management, Air (PMA)-260. The ESDPs commented that virtual reality training systems like these would be useful for the F-35 program and manned flight simulators, avenues the CREATIVE Lab is investigating.

The ESDPs visited many other ALRE and SE engineering labs and received a tour of Lakehurst’s testing sites to include the Jet Car Track Site (JCTS) for testing arresting gear, the Jet Blast Deflector (JBD) test site, the Runway Arrested Landing Site (RALS) and the catapult complex with two steam catapults and one Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS).

This visit exposed the ESDPs to NAWCAD Lakehurst’s capabilities and provided a forum for sharing technical information on solving warfighter challenges.

More trips are being planned to maintain the momentum behind innovative, cost-effective, rapid prototyping solutions.

NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs
(732) 323-2811

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The ESDPs and members of the NAWCmADe Innovation Team from Patuxent River visited NAWCAD Lakehurst in August 2017. (U.S. Navy Photo)

The ESDPs and members of the NAWCmADe Innovation Team from Patuxent River visited NAWCAD Lakehurst in August 2017. (U.S. Navy Photo)

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