There’s something in the air that is revolutionizing aircraft production. Advances in 3D printing—or additive manufacturing (AM)—are catapulting demand for lightweight 3D printed components to such a high degree that the aerospace market is projected to grow beyond $3 billion this year and reach $6.75 billion by 2026. So, what is driving this unprecedented demand for AM components in the aerospace industry?
Here, we will explore the latest advancements in AM and discuss the reasons why 3D printing is transforming the current trends in aerospace and space manufacturing.
Technology beyond tradition
Additive manufacturing is not a new concept. In recent years, in fact, aircraft manufacturers have seen how this technology has advanced beyond its traditional scope and reached a stage for aerospace applications. Industry giants that include Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are regularly producing tens of thousands of 3D printed aircraft. Having seen an increase for AM in 2021, the space industry is right there with these companies. Jordan Noone, co-founder of Relativity Space, said using 3D printed components is the new baseline for engines. He estimated that every new rocket engine that entered the market last year had 3D printed components on it. Also reaping the rewards are engineers who are discovering how 3D printing can solve some of their most complex issues. The hope for 2022 is that Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)—the process of adjusting a design to make it less expensive, faster and more effective—will go by the wayside and yield more design freedom. Engineers have been tasked with conceding to the manufacturability of a product instead of designing the best part possible. Industry experts believe one of the keys to moving 3D printing for aerospace and space forward is to give engineers the design freedom to print the parts they need and want—including lighter ones—that perform better and even consolidate into a single component.
To summarize, here are some of the key reasons why aircraft makers are embracing AM technology:
Ability to create complex, customized and one-of-a-kind parts
Lighter in weight
Investing in the future
As aircraft production experiences its greatest transformation, aerospace original equipment manufacturers have met the demand by investing in large-scale AM machines and projects to achieve the revolutionary part consolidation requirements for new generation aircraft. In 2021, Boeing, along with many of its competitors, kept its AM division busy by establishing a fully controlled and distributed 3D printing network. Boeing produced parts for its aircraft remotely and securely on EOS 3D printers directly, along with 3D printing aerospace-grade materials to make their components.
Achieving a sustainable process
Industry experts agree that sustainable, biodegradable and bio-social printed materials will play a major role in the future of AM. That’s because additive manufacturing uses considerably less material than traditional manufacturing processes. This means the upfront process of mining raw materials, converting them to a printed material and transporting them to the point of printing is greatly reduced. Optimizing the part makes it weigh less and also enables its functionality to operate on a smaller space. The final result is a vehicle that is more streamlined, has less drag and requires less fuel. Although an increasing number of manufacturers have adopted sustainable 3D printing practices, some are raising the bar. Boeing, for example, recently implemented an AM sustainability initiative to examine the benefits of different manufacturing process scenarios. Boeing has also focused its attention on sustainability by adopting sustainable 3D printing practices such as:
Designing parts so support structures are not needed
Using simulations and predictive modeling to ensure quality and first-time success for AM builds, reducing build iterations that create waste
Producing lighter-weight parts that can perform the function using less fuel
Join the next generation of 3D innovators
Do you have a passion for computer-aided design (CAD)? You could be trained and working in the field quickly. Our certificate in Computer-Aided Design (CAD) for Additive and Subtractive Manufacturing is designed with a strong career orientation that trains students to become experts in their fields, preparing them for entry-level jobs upon graduation. We also offer a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering: Computer-Aided Design which would give you the ability to design components of a mechanical system using the industry’s latest computer design programs. Vaughn also hosts annual manufacturing conferences where the latest industry knowledge, information and tools are shared across the community.
There are many moving parts that make up the aviation industry. From airport managers and transportation safety administration (TSA) workers to pilots and flight attendants—among many other jobs in-between—keeping passengers safe both on the ground and in the air is a monumental task. But did you ever wonder who’s working behind the scenes to keep the aircraft safe and running efficiently?
We’d like to take you through a day in the life of an aviation maintenance technician (AMT). Imagine working on multi-million-dollar equipment that powers some of our country’s most elite transportation, energy and defense manufacturers. Sounds interesting, right? Read on to learn how Vaughn’s Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) certificate program can be your ticket to a futureproof career.
The role of an AMT
Aviation maintenance technicians are considered to be the backbone of the aviation industry. You may not have thought of this before, but without these highly skilled professionals, no other careers could exist in the aviation industry. Talk about an in-demand career! Simply put, AMTs oversee the operation of various types of aircraft, including jets and helicopters, by maintaining and repairing their systems and components. No two days are ever the same!
What it takes to become an AMT
The role of an AMT―also known as an airframe and powerplant technician―is a demanding career. It is a highly skilled job that requires licensing by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure candidates have mastered a broad range of industry-related knowledge and skills. AMTs perform routine maintenance on aircrafts and look for parts that need to be repaired or replaced that include brakes, wheels, electrical systems and wings. Candidates who pursue a career as an AMT must fulfill a few of the following requirements:
Completion of 1,920 hours of class time and hands-on training before taking the licensing exam
Being able to work on different engine systems from a variety of manufacturers, along with the ability to apply knowledge learned from manuals for troubleshooting
Have skill in mechanical, electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic, composite and sheet metal applications
Skills and responsibilities
For every flight that lands in the United States, there is a crew of AMTs who must inspect the plane and sign off on each protocol to ensure every facet of its mechanics is working properly and efficiently. Here are some of the skills and responsibilities required to do the job:
Qualifications and requirements:
Be licensed by the FAA
Must be conscientious and thorough
Adhere to demanding schedules
Work well under pressure
Address immediate problems and resolve them before takeoff, or defer problem and ground flight for later repair
Use full knowledge of industry standards and apply troubleshooting skills
Sign off on all protocols to ensure a plane is safe to fly
Tasks on a typical day:
Diagnose mechanical or electrical problems
Repair wings, brakes, electrical systems and other aircraft components
Replace defective parts using hand or power tools
Examine replacement aircraft parts for defects
Read maintenance materials to identify repair procedures
Test aircraft parts with gauges and other diagnostic equipment
Inspect completed work to ensure it meets performance standards
Keep records of maintenance and repair work
Opportunity for growth
AMTs who work in their field have the opportunity to move up the ladder within their company. Here is a snapshot of the different types of jobs in this field:
AMT―Performs routine maintenance and repairs
Lead Technician―Distributes, assigns and monitors work
Instructor―Teaches general familiarization classes for the types of aircraft that airlines use, along with instruction on aircraft systems, procedures, safety and compliance
Aircraft Maintenance Planner―Handles environmental studies, oversees land use planning and participates in business development activities
Maintenance Controller―Works in a central location to help troubleshoot problems on the ground
Maintenance Engineer―Modifies aircraft
According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians have been projected to grow 11 percent from 2020 to 2030—which is faster as the average for all occupations. And, according to Boeing, the industry will need as many as 626,000 new maintenance technicians over the course of the next 20 years. Did you know that aircraft mechanics and service technicians held approximately 130,100 jobs in 2020? Now, that is an impressive number! As far as salary is concerned, that sum continues to increase as well. In May 2020, the median annual wage for aircraft mechanics and service technicians was $66,440. With this impressive projected job growth and extreme demand, the time couldn’t be better to pursue a career in this field.
How Vaughn can get you there
Vaughn’s Aviation Training Institute (ATI) is a special gem among the College’s stellar degree programs. Led by industry expert and vice president of training, Domenic Proscia, the curriculum is designed to prepare students for high-paying and in-demand careers with the tools, modern technology, knowledge and hands-on experience needed to be successful in a variety of maintenance careers. Graduates go on to work in the utility, transportation and aviation arenas at companies such as the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Con Edison, the Long Island Rail Road and major airlines such as Atlas Air (cargo), American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, among others. Vaughn’s ATI program includes the Aviation Maintenance (Airframe and Powerplant) certificate and Aviation Maintenance Associate in Occupational Science, both of which are approved by the FAA and will give you the skills you need to become an AMT.
A futureproof career can be only months away. Read the success stories of Vaughn graduates who are working and living their dreams as AMTs.
Is a high-paying career as a certified airframe and powerplant technician in your future? Vaughn’s ATI program can prepare you for the industry in as little as 16 months. Learn more about this exciting opportunity at our Virtual Information Session on Thursday, February 24 at 6 p.m. Register today!
February is Black History Month. It is a time when we celebrate the achievements of African Americans and recognize their notable contributions to our country and its history.
To honor this special time, we are featuring influential African Americans whose lives, careers and pioneering efforts in the fields of engineering, aviation and management continue to pave the way for future generations.
Lewis Latimer: Notable Inventor and Engineer Who Helped Edison and Graham Bell on Their Revolutionary Inventions
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848, Lewis Latimer was an engineer and inventor best known for his contributions toward the development of the light bulb and the telephone—although his achievements go way beyond those. Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell may come to mind when you hear about the invention of the light bulb and telephone, respectively, but it was the innovative insight and drafting expertise of Latimer that helped these renowned inventors obtain their patents on two of the most fundamental inventions of modern life.
The youngest of four children, Latimer, lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War at 15 years old. He was honorably discharged one year later and returned to Boston, where he was hired as an office assistant at a patent law firm. It was there that Latimer saw an opportunity to teach himself mechanical drawing and drafting by observing drafters at the firm. He worked himself up to head drafter and used his design skills to invent other ways to improve on existing life. It was during this time that Bell sought out Latimer to do the drawings for his patent application, which ultimately awarded him the patent rights to the telephone.
Considered one of the most important Black inventors of his time, Latimer was in demand as the need for electric lighting spread throughout the country. He co-authored a book, “Incandescent Electric Lighting: A Practical Description of the Edison System”. Although he never worked in any of Edison’s labs, Latimer was the only Black member of “Edison’s Pioneers”—a group of men who worked closely with the famous inventor during his early days. He married Mary Wilson and had two daughters, Emma and Louise. He died on December 11, 1928, in Flushing, New York.
Mae Jemison: Aerospace Engineer and Physicist and First Black Woman Astronaut to Travel to Space
Born in Alabama in 1956, Mae Jemison—an American engineer, physician and former NASA astronaut—was raised in Chicago. She became the first Black woman astronaut and the first Black woman to travel to space. At the age of 16, she enrolled at Stanford University and earned degrees in both chemical engineering and African and African American studies.
Jemison’s aspirations to become a professional dancer and desire to go to medical school left her at a crossroads during her senior year at Stanford. As history revealed, she went on to earn her medical degree from Cornell University while continuing to study dance during her time there.
From 1983 to 1985, Jemison worked as a medical officer for the Peace Corps in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where she held several responsibilities that included supervising the medical staff, providing medical care and conducting research. Over the next few years, she entered private practice and took graduate-level engineering courses in preparation to fulfill her childhood dream of someday going into space.
In 1987, she was accepted into NASA’s astronaut training program and became the first Black woman astronaut. On September 12, 1992, Jemison became the first Black woman in space, where she served as a science mission specialist aboard the Endeavour, which orbited the Earth for nearly eight days. After leaving NASA, she founded the Jemison Group, Inc., a technology research organization. She has received several honorary degrees and awards, including the National Organization for Women’s Intrepid Award and the Kilby Science Award. Additionally, Jemison has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame and the Texas Science Hall of Fame. She currently lives in Houston, Texas.
Henry Kuykendall: Senior Vice President of Airport Operations, East at Delta Airlines
As Senior Vice President of Airport Operations at Delta Airlines, Henry Kuykendall is a shining example of how diversity, inclusion and equity play a significant role in becoming a successful cross-divisional leader in the aviation industry. As someone who worked his way up the corporate ladder, Kuykendall has firsthand knowledge of the importance of understanding the complexities his peers face, since he once walked in their shoes.
From a position of facing professional challenges as a member of the Black community, Kuykendall knows that understanding differences comes power. He believes the best way to “get a seat at the table” and create opportunities to learn is to insert yourself with leaders who are innately different from you. This notion has proven successful for Kuykendall over the years. In 1988, he joined Delta and worked in several positions that included airport customer service, airport operations and corporate and reservation sales. His arduous work over the years earned him a position at Delta’s hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where he led a team of 4,000 employees.
In 2011, he moved to New York, where he served as vice president for Delta, overseeing all New York routes and commercial functions for the business in that state. His career continued to take off when he was appointed Senior Vice President of Airport Operations, Northeast, where he oversaw Delta operations at LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport. In 2017, he assumed his current position as Senior Vice President of Airport Operations, East, where he not only oversees all airport operations in Boston, New York and Detroit Metropolitan Airport, but 42 airports in the East, not to mention 134 smaller airport locations across the United States. Kuykendall is a graduate of West Los Angeles College and the University of Phoenix. He serves on the board of directors for the YMCA of Greater New York and the New York Building of Congress.
You can read more about other Black pioneers who made their marks in history in this blog. Which one of these amazing trailblazers inspired you? Just imagine: You could create the next revolutionary invention or explore space as a next generation astronaut! Your dreams are possible with a degree from Vaughn College. We offer programs in the fields of engineering and technology, management and aviation that can set you on a path of a futureproof career. Discover the possibilities. Apply today.
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