The following is a guest blog post from Don Kinard, Lockheed Martin Fellow, posted after NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons attended a systems demonstration, led by Kinard, at Lockheed Martin’s Dallas facility during the 2016 State of Manufacturing Tour:
Continuing our mission of solving complex challenges, advancing scientific discoveries and delivering innovative solutions to help our customers provide global security, Lockheed Martin is using advanced manufacturing technology to build the newest fifth generation fighter: the Joint Strike Fighter, or F-35 Lightning II.
Some of the key technologies Lockheed Martin is using to enhance quality and efficiency within F-35 production operations include additive manufacturing, structured light scanning, automated drilling, robotic spraying of coatings and optical projection of work instructions for assembly. Additive manufacturing has already been used to produce more than 5,000 tools for the F-35, and development is underway to mature additive for structural applications for cost savings, as well as the production of integrated components not possible with conventional subtractive machining.
Similarly, through use of the F-35 digital thread, design changes go directly to the affected work stations ensuring the technician always has the current engineering requirements. For example, using optical projection, assembly information is projected directly onto the component, eliminating the need for crafted templates and drawing interpretation.
Just as the F-35 is defining the future of fighter aircraft, the technology used in the manufacture of the aircraft is defining the factory of the future.