Evolving Quality Assurance And Control For Advanced Manufacturing: An Opportunity For The U.S. Leadership

Evolving Quality Assurance And Control For Advanced Manufacturing: An Opportunity For The U.S. Leadership

Today’s rapidly evolving aerospace and defense manufacturing technology industry requires quality assurance standards, techniques and regulations that can match pace with innovations in manufacturing.

Historically, the development of standards and regulations has been a deliberately slow and conservative process—and rightly so in an industry where safety and quality are so important. However, when the pace of regulatory updates cannot keep up with capability development, we’re at risk of hindering, if not disabling, substantial adoption of new technologies. The U.S. should lead this standards development.

Quality assurance techniques are developed to independently assess that manufactured components meet dimensionality, material and other relevant physical attributes. These processes are used by both manufacturers and finished product customers to track and verify that manufactured goods conform to established standards. In many industries, these standards are maintained by independent governing groups, including government agencies, and in so doing, form the regulatory basis in these industries. 

 

 

Standards for various manufacturing techniques have been developed through years, if not decades, of testing to confirm the applied quality assurance independent measure of standards is repeatable and sufficiently comprehensive. The verification and validation tests for these approaches then serve as the needed metric for a manufacturer to demonstrate qualitatively that manufactured goods meet the regulated standards. Again, historically, this was done by the development of a standard, a metric stating a needed physical attribute for a manufactured good and the associated quality assurance technique used to confirm that the manufactured good met the standard. 

“Given the current security climate, it is more important than ever that the U.S. lead the way in support of a robust and technologically advanced domestic aerospace and defense industrial base.”

In additive manufacturing, as an example, techniques to determine the strength of materials used in industrial parts need to be developed as those for forged starting materials are not appropriate. In this example, the demonstration of part quality might include a demonstration of the proper thickness of applied material in an additive manufacturing process as well as observations of the grain boundary physical attributes. Combinations of measurable physical attributes and the corresponding material and quality attributes can then be used as quality assurance conditions to certify the part meets it specifications. Standards, such as those currently in place for nuclear quality assurance in manufacturing or for pressure vessels, must be revised to accommodate not only new techniques in manufacturing, like 3-D printing, but also to enable digital technologies for quality assurance and control. The development of the standards for advanced manufacturing can leverage the advances in materials research, in-situ and remote sensing, and physics-based modeling to accelerate the testing needed to validate these new characterization methods for advanced manufacturing and the related quality/quality control standards.

Given the current security climate, it is more important than ever that the U.S. lead the way in support of a robust and technologically advanced domestic aerospace and defense industrial base, thus helping develop a competitive advantage for U.S.-based manufacturing and our mission to secure peace across the globe.

Weekly Brief

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