Improving tool life
GE Superabrasives has engineered a new polycrystalline CBN cutting tool, HTC 2000 Compacts, for continuous turning of hardened steel materials. HTC 2000 was developed using Six Sigma tools designed to meet the challenges of high-volume production. The tool addresses demands for higher cutting speeds, dry machining, and the flexibility for working with a variety of new ferrous materials.
The polycrystalline CBN is chemically inert to ferrous materials and features an optimized thermal conductivity, enabling it to deliver high-material-removal rates, good surface finish, and long tool life. HTC 2000 is manufactured in a Ti-based ceramic matrix, integrally bonded to a tungsten-carbide substrate.
- Frank Bokulich
Paint-on antenna concept from Unitech
Unitech LLC has recently demonstrated its Unishield paint-on antenna array (POAA) at the U.S. Air Force's Antenna Testing Facility in Ipswich, MA. The proprietary coating as an embedded antenna conduit is an alternate communication technique that can reduce or eliminate structural damage, maintenance, and performance reduction associated with current antenna designs and installation methods. The POAA, which is capable of receiving global positioning signals, also has potential as a quick, lightweight means for military or disaster relief personnel to hastily set up communications in the field.
Lacy Walthall, CEO of Unitech, revealed that during the tests in Ipswich, the paint-on antenna showed a gain of 1.5 dB, which is within an acceptable range of current low-profile antenna arrays such as the Motorola model the company used as a comparison. "The biggest surprise was that our painted antenna had a bandwidth more than twice that of the Motorola antenna, indicating that our single antenna may be able to replace multiple arrays," said Walthall.
From a commercial standpoint, Unitech believes that the POAA could be located on the tail section of the aircraft and patterned in such a way as to capture multiple frequencies. "The array connector could enter the aircraft through a single, tiny hole, thereby dramatically reducing the intrusive side effects, repair, and maintenance requirements, installation expense, engineering headaches, and overall weight of current systems," said Walthall. "This type of POAA system could be used in conjunction with, for example, Boeing's Connexion initiative that seeks continuous cell phone, Internet, and entertainment access for every seat on the plane."
According to Walthall, the military has also shown some interest in the technology. Unishield can create an electrical field that can be specifically tuned to absorb or reflect radar frequencies. It can be formulated to create a magnetic field or to establish a 3-D surface that can scatter radar signals, thereby reducing aircraft and ship signatures. Due to its unique, proprietary formulation, the coating is flexible and anti-corrosive, making it an attractive material for extreme environments, such as those experienced in military applications.
"Of particular interest is utilization of the POAA and the coating itself for unmanned composite aircraft," said Walthall. "Similar applications are generating interest from the Navy."
During the field tests in July at Langley Air Force Base in front of Air Force personnel as well as representatives from Boeing and Mitre Corp, a coaxial cable carried GPS data from a paint-on prototype to a laptop computer, where testing software displayed the satellite feedback on the screen. The small 2 x 2-in. prototype picked up five to six satellites at one time while the program recorded and displayed the signal strength of each.
- Frank Bokulich
Cormer orders manufacturing equipment for work on 737
To support its activities in the Boeing 737 program, Cormer Group Industries, Inc. of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has ordered a new high-performance gantry vertical profiler and three V5-3000 five-axis vertical machining centers from Cincinnati Machine. All four machines are scheduled for delivery by early December and will be used to machine aluminum wing engine supports for the Boeing 737.
The profiler features three 100-hp, 10,000-rpm spindles spaced 40 in. apart to machine three parts simultaneously and a direct-spindle drive system capable of achieving high speeds for five-axis processing and high aluminum removal rates. The machine has a standard x-axis (longitudinal gantry travel) range of 27 in. for machining long parts and is powered by the Siemens PC-based A2100 CNC, which is the standard control.
The V5-3000 delivers speed, precision, and agility to improve the machining of aluminum components. Responding to the aerospace industry's use of monolithic airframe parts in place of fabricated multi-component assemblies, the machine's 130 x 30 in. work table rides on four widely spaced y-axis linear ways that support more than 2 t of parts and fixtures. X-axis travel on the machine is 120 in. The V5's five-axis capability enables it to process multiple surfaces, interior and exterior, without refixturing. It also eliminates separate setups and reduces queue times for separate machine operations, including vector drilling, boring, and tapping.
- Frank Bokulich
Swedish wind tunnel upgrade
Sweden's transonic wind tunnel facility has been upgraded to give it broader scope, with a new power system to provide enhanced operations. Now part of FOI, the Swedish Defense Research Agency formed earlier this year, the complex in Stockholm has several tunnels ranging in speed from Mach 0.2 to 7.2. The facility's history stretches back 60 years, with the current transonic 1.5 x 1.5 m tunnel (T 1500) in use since 1989. It is a closed-circuit, pressurized tunnel suitable for both civil and military aerodynamics research and project testing. Injector-driven in an intermittent operational mode, it provides Reynolds Nos. up to 80 million. It has high-performance data acquisitions and provision for unsteady force measurements, electronic pressure scanning systems, and flow visualization techniques. Speed span is Mach 0.2 to 1.25 with slotted walls; Mach 0.2 to 0.8 and Mach 1.3 to 2.0 with solid walls. Up to four runs an hour can be provided, and access to the model is available five minutes after a run, with test results available in 10 minutes.
- Stuart Birch
Integrated fuel system for the Eclipse 500
The Airframe Division of Argo-Tech Corp. has announced that it has developed an integrated fuel system for use on the Eclipse 500, a new twin-engine, six-seat jet. It is designed by Eclipse Aviation Corp. to be produced with high-volume manufacturing techniques at a fraction of current small jet aircraft cost. The fuel system will be developed, qualified, and certified at Argo-Tech's facility in Costa Mesa, CA. The Eclipse 500 is slated for first flight in 2002.
- Frank Bokulich