The Power of Advanced Aircraft Production Technologies
When it comes to building a fighter for the future, world-leading production technologies play a very important role. Not only do they enhance efficiency at various production stages and simplify processes, but also save cost. Read on to know about a few innovative ways of working that have transformed the way Gripen is manufactured today.
Model Based Development
With the Model Based Development (MBD), all the traditional blue prints are brought together into a single 3D model. This model has all the important information like dimensions, tolerances, manufacturing methods, and assembly information. This helps streamline the entire development and manufacturing chain.
"MBD results in a superior quality product and it reduces the overall time taken to build these products. Since everything is tested on a computer first, the parts of the end product fit without any grinding. If India selects Gripen, the fighter development - which will happen in the country with our local defence partners – will be top notch, incorporating the latest technologies, building unparalleled fighter manufacturing capabilities,” says Mats Palmberg, Head of Gripen India campaign.
With MBD, the lead time is significantly reduced because you can identify and address issues and challenges at an early stage of development. Every little existing or potential problem can be fixed before it reaches a stage where the product has to be sent for flight tests. Almost all design defects are identified in the simulation stage. And since the same model is used by all teams involved in the design process, everyone is aware of the constant changes that are being made, be it aerodynamics, weight and balance or weapon integration. This allows for improved delivery as compared to traditional working methods.
Last year, Saab successfully flew an exterior 3D printed part on Gripen showing way for a revolutionised future battlefield damage repair. The part in discussion was a replacement hatch printed using additive manufacturing, using a nylon polymer called PA2200.
"The flight with the 3D printed hatch proved that there is a lot of scope for additive manufacturing in fighter aircraft manufacturing. This means that in the future, you don't need to send an aircraft to another facility for repair or go through the wreckage of other broken down aircraft to find a part. You can print the damaged part in less time instead. For battlefield damage repair, this changes everything. With 3D printing, you can even take off some weight from certain structure parts,” Mats says.