LIFT, a manufacturing institute run by the US Department of Defense (DoD), and Boeing have launched two projects focusing on using powder metallurgy (PM) to develop hypersonic aircraft.

These types of vehicle are designated as operating at speeds of Mach 5 or higher.

The first project, with partner Powdermet, aims to demonstrate near-net-shape manufacturing of metal matrix composite components for hypersonic vehicle demonstrators. Plans are for the new parts to be more durable, reliable, and manufactured more quickly than similar parts.

The second project, with partners RPM Innovations and Intelligent Optical Systems focuses on developing in-situ build process monitoring sensors and non-destructive evaluation (NDE) approaches for laser-directed energy deposition (L-DED) 3D printing. According to LIFT, current post-process quality verification can be time-consuming and expensive.

“Cost-effective approaches to developing hypersonic components that are reliable and rapidly producible are critical to our national security, and these projects will lead us down that path,” said Taisia Lou, Boeing additive manufacturing senior engineer, who is managing the second project.

“Understanding the materials and how they react to processing so components are near-net shape will help make the development and manufacture of hypersonic components faster, better, and cheaper for the US industrial base,” added Nigel Francis, CEO at LIFT.