02 July 2006
02 July 2006
At the CAI Final Technical Review, held in April, U.S. Air Force CAI Program Manager John Russell acknowledged Galorath Incorporated's SEER-DFM(TM) with the composites plug-in as one of the three most significant technology transitions that occurred as a result of the program since its inception in 1996.
The Composites Affordability Initiative (CAI) is a complex initiative focused on achieving the revolutionary vision of establishing the confidence to fly affordable integrated/bonded primary structures by advancing technologies across a wide spectrum of aerospace disciplines. Additionally, the program had a goal to dramatically reduce the cost of composites used in airframe structures.
""We are quite honoured at the recognition that was given to the composites plug-in for SEER-DFM. More importantly, we are honoured by its adoption by our customers and the accolades that they bestow upon the software in its everyday application to their projects,"" said Joe Falque, product director for Galorath Incorporated. ""We have continued to enhance the product, adding significant new capabilities to provide reliable estimates for manufacturing costs as well as design and producibility guidance to achieve the most efficient and affordable designs possible.""
The CAI Cost Analysis Team and Galorath Incorporated partnered to develop a composites modelling plug-in to the SEER-DFM design-for-manufacturability tool after examining other design tools and determining that they were not accurate enough for their purposes or required extensive inputs. CAI team engineers decided that the SEER-DFM process-based approach was the most practical because it offered the best mix of accuracy, detail, speed, security and configuration control. The resulting plug-in provides designers with a method for quickly and accurately evaluating the cost of alternate composite materials and manufacturing processes. SEER-DFM with the composites plug-in is now in extensive use throughout the aerospace industry around the world.
At the time the plug-in was developed, the CAI team consisted of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, the Air Force Air Vehicles Directorate, The Navy's Office of Naval Research, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Electric Aircraft Engines.
The composites plug-in for SEER-DFM provides a direct cost model, which includes over 25 existing and emerging composite fabrication and assembly processes, as well as state-of-the-art metal processes such as high speed machining and super plastic forming-w-diffusion bonding. As a result, engineers can perform an increased number of trade studies in a shorter period of time. This reduces costs and helps speed identification of the most affordable composite structural concepts with greater dependability than was previously possible. CAI team engineers and other customers have offered enthusiastic reviews; some team members have reported a significant impact in reducing costs of composite structures.
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The aircraft industry has forecast that over 35,000 new aircraft will be required within the next 20 years, meeting this kind of escalating demand calls for new approaches and new technologies, reports Victrex, and as a consequence thermoplastic composites are expected to play an increasingly important role in accelerating future aircraft construction.