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Support for Additive Manufacturing Discussed in Whitepaper From Nadcap

Standards-based audit checklist and best practices provide support for growing technology in aerospace

Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2022 - 11:00

(Nadcap: Warrendale, PA) -- Modern 3D printing began during the early 1980s as a way to produce rapid prototype parts. According to a new whitepaper from the National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program (Nadcap), additive manufacturing (AM), as it’s now called, is rapidly becoming a transformative technology.

Nadcap is developing an audit criteria checklist for powder material manufacture for use in metallic AM. This will complement the existing AM checklist for laser and electron-beam powder-bed fusion AM processes. Audit checklists are critical tools used to compare a company’s practices and processes to established standards.

Additive manufacturing uses CAD software-driven equipment to deposit polymer or metal material in layers to form precise solid shapes, such as aerospace parts. The whitepaper notes that the aerospace industry began using AM during the mid-1990s, and now builds a variety of parts with it, including air ducts, brackets, and fuel nozzles. NASA and SpaceX also make a variety of space hardware using AM processes.

The advent of multiple-laser technology is also enabling high-volume AM production, and process improvements are leading to the manufacture of much larger AM parts. This progress in AM translates into significant returns in both durability and cost efficiency for the aerospace market.

Nadcap is an industry-managed approach to conformity assessment that brings together technical experts from both industry and government to set requirements for accreditation, accredit suppliers, and define operational program requirements in aerospace. It began in 1990 and is administered by the Performance Review Institute (PRI).

In addition to already-developed AM audit criteria, participants in various Nadcap program task groups are monitoring AM industry needs and developing audit criteria to meet emerging requirements. Both Nadcap and PRI personnel also work closely with the aviation industry as it adopts and maintains best practices for AM use. Nadcap Audit Criteria for AM have been used to accredit suppliers to the Nadcap program in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, and India.

Developments in AM, and its increased use in aerospace manufacturing, will lead to parts reduction, weight reduction, and more fuel-efficient aircraft. Nadcap activities in AM will also help to ensure that companies in the AM supply chain are operating in accordance with the principles of this industry-driven program.

To access and download the full PRI whitepaper on AM, go to: https://p-r-i.org/resources/ and search under “Nadcap” and/or “whitepaper.”

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