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Aerodef 2017 Recap: Through the Eyes of a BTG Labs Sales Engineer

The Aerodef Manufacturing conference was held last week in Ft. Worth Texas. This event is a smaller regional manufacturing show focusing on aerospace and defense industries. The show typically features technical papers on a variety of topics, a small trade show floor, and a few receptions to allow for networking and socialization.

This year BTG Labs presented a paper on surface controls in manufacturing. Our marketing partner Abaris Training Services, kindly shared their booth with us. During the show, I had the opportunity to meet a variety of current and potential customers, discussing ways to validate surface prep, cleaning, and surface condition. Since my interests cover all surface material related topics, there is always a lot to discuss! Aerodef is clearly moving towards a focus on additive manufacturing (3d printing, cold spray, thermal spray) as a way to accomplish rapid-prototyping and to manufacture finished parts.

An interesting new application I ran into at this show was Cold Spray technology. This process prepares a surface for final machining by spraying fine metal powder at ultrasonic speeds to add multiple layers to the surface. By re-building the surface, this application acts as a repair process for metals that are badly corroded or broken, or have lost tolerances due to wear. It also seems capable of laying down conductive circuitry on non-conductive materials.

Since the success of this process relies on the metal powder’s adhesion to the substrate, appropriate and controlled surface preparation is key to ensuring reliability in the process. I will be interested to learn how we can implement some of our Surface Analyst instrumentation and expertise to help improve this process.