Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 34

West

Raytheon Missile Systems

the immersive design center utilizes
nine 3-d projectors, virtual reality
headsets and advanced motion
tracking technology.

edge of implementing that technology for a long time. However, recent
developments in that technology have
taken it in exciting new directions that
could have significant benefits for
Raytheon in the near future.
Although Raytheon was one of the
first to implement 3-D printing in
a large-scale manufacturing environment, the fact that the technology was limited to plastic materials
meant it could only play a small role
in the production process. Within the
last few years, however, 3-D printing
using metal has become a reality, and
Erickson says that promises to have a
substantial impact on what is possible for the company. "3-D printing is a
whole new manufacturing capability
that has existed for the last 20 years,
but is really starting to connect because of the new materials," he says.
"It has had a large impact on Raytheon because of our ability to prototype, but now it's becoming more
mature and allowing us to look more
34

manufacturing-today.com NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016

seriously at making production-level
units with it."
Ernzen says 3-D printing has the
potential to be a paradigm shift for
Raytheon as the demands of warfare
have made it necessary for products
to be made with high precision but
in increasingly short timeframes.
Traditional machining can produce
high-precision components, but the
cycle times with those processes can
be extremely long in many cases.
"With additive manufacturing, you
can grow those products in weeks as
opposed to months," Ernzen says.
The ability of 3-D printing to produce high-precision components in
a fraction of the time of traditional
machining could be especially beneficial for Raytheon's next generation
of products, which have much higher
demands on them than previous generations. For example, Ernzen says,
some of Raytheon's next-gen missiles
need to travel at speeds of up to Mach
5, requiring extremely thin edges and

some unconventional aerodynamic
profiles. She says Raytheon's precision machining shop in Dallas is looking at the potential applications for
3-D printing on systems like those as
well as structures that support advanced radar systems. "We're also
seeing it in our radars and some of the
other platforms," she says.
According to Erickson, Raytheon
anticipates being able to get production hardware out of a 3-D metal printing platform in the very near future.
Once the company is able to incorporate that technology successfully into
its processes, there's no telling where
the ceiling is. If Raytheon will one day
be able to print an entire missile for
one of its customers to the same high
standards of quality and reliability as
today, Erickson says, that could very
well be a possibility.

Adapting to Change
Although new ideas and technologies can bring with them tremendous
benefits, they also can bring some
challenges along with those benefits.
Ernzen says Raytheon has not been
immune to some of the common
growing pains that often come with

"3-d printing is a
whole new manufacturing capability that
is really starting to
connect because of
the new materials."
the adoption of new technology. "Anytime you're looking at implementing a
change, there's always dynamics that
go into that," she says. "The biggest
challenge is always that something
new is always scary and exciting."
Part of that challenge is convincing
customers of the benefits these tech-


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016

Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - 3
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Manufacturing Today - November/December 2016 - Cover3
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