The teaming of upgraded manufacturing and measurement capabilities is helping meet the demanding requirements of growing A&D and space markets.
by Michael Cusimano, Engineering Manager, Dayton T. Brown, Inc.
Aerospace and defense (A&D) and space markets are expanding rapidly. Serving these markets requires much effort and ingenuity, and often calls for taking an extra step or two by a supplier. To provide the latest engineering, testing, machining, and inspection capabilities for A&D and space systems and subsystems, Dayton T. Brown, Inc. (www.dtb.com) took the extra step by dedicating a facility within its main location to its machine shop, for enhanced control of precision machined parts. By maintaining superior machining capabilities onsite, design and manufacturing projects are not delayed, and A&D and space customers can achieve reductions in size, weight, and power and cost (SWaP-C) for prototypes, small-volume, and medium-volume production runs, with full test and measurement capabilities right next door.
The enhanced machine shop is within a secure, climate-controlled, 10,000 ft.2 facility containing many additional test laboratories, located in Bohemia, NY. Registered to AS9100, ISO9001, and ITAR specifications, the machine shop (Fig. 1) transfers dimensional data via computer-aided-design (CAD) files or three-dimensional (3D) models to design and manufacture parts and components that may be missing from a customer’s system. The facility employs computer-numerically-controlled (CNC) machining for parts fabrication, drilling, milling, profile cutting, and turning in various materials. High-speed Y-axis turning is performed for single-dimension control while vertical and multiple-axis milling are available for repeatable three-dimensional parts production. Parts as large as 121 × 61 × 24 in. can be machined with tolerances as fine as ±0.0004 in. Precision inspection equipment is available with resolution as fine as 0.00006 in.
The machine shop has been an integral part of the company’s capabilities for some time, providing custom test fixtures to aid electrical, mechanical, and environmental characterization of systems and components for A&D and space applications. Together with the latest CAD software, it has been possible with the CNC machine tools to create custom test fixtures and design or reverse-engineer test fixtures and missing parts. Working with CAD files, needed parts can be produced quickly, resulting in significant reductions in lead times for customers. Extension of this supports testing and one-stop shopping for customers as well as test fixturing which can reduce design-to-fabrication times to one week versus traditional longer lead times from outside sources. And on top of that no time is lost in shipping. The machine shop can produce small- and medium-volume production runs as needed, not just for testing but in support of production runs as needed.
Until recently, the machine shop has been located within several measurement laboratories and has not functioned as a fully separate unit. But now, operating as a separate, dedicated business unit, it can function more efficiently while still filling needs within the company. The machine shop is surrounded by advanced test capabilities within the Bohemia facility but has room to grow to meet the increasing needs of steadily growing A&D and space markets. The extensive in-house machining, tooling, and test fixture design and fabrication capabilities help shrink turnaround times even for advanced system projects, without compromising manufacturing quality or measurement accuracy.
The facility containing the expanded machine shop houses several new test facilities, including a 10 × 10 × 10 ft. temperature/humidity chamber for MIL-STD-810 temperature and DO-160 humidity testing. This walk-in test chamber is capable of fast ramp-up and ramp-down temperature swings to help accelerate test times. Nearby, a solar chamber measuring 12 × 24 × 10 ft. supports ASTM, MIL-STD-810, and ANSI testing for ultraviolet (UV) space testing of systems and components, such as what may be needed for proper operation in low earth orbit satellite (LEOS) systems. Satellite structural and environmental testing can be performed according to ECSS-E-ST-10-03 standards. Additional upgrades within the facility include new and reconfigured vibration (“shake”) tables with new vibration control computers for expanded dynamics testing (Fig. 2) that can be performed over wide operating temperature ranges within a dynamics and vibration lab. Satellite structural and environmental testing can be performed according to ECSS-E-ST-10-03 standards.
As part of inspections, such as for design verification, precise dimensional measurements can be made using fixed and portable coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). The machine shop is also aided by inspections from a six-axis, moveable, portable FaroArm® CMM which can be positioned as needed on the manufacturing floor for high-accuracy probing and precision dimensional measurements.
An on-site metallurgy laboratory contains various inspection and analytical instruments which are essential to ensuring new material as well as finished products meet their requirements. Various instruments, such as a scanning electron microscope (SEM) with energy dispersive spectroscopy, optical emission spectrometer, metallographs, and hardness testers are used for various inspections. DTB has nondestructive testing capabilities include magnetic particle and liquid penetrant. These techniques help to ensure manufactured parts are of the highest quality so they can function reliably in the harshest operating environments.
For a quick but comprehensive look at the Dayton T. Brown machine shop now in Bohemia, NY, see their “Precision Machining” brochure, available for free download.