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Accelerating Development of Large-Scale Structures

large structure

Goal: Create a consortium to develop technology roadmaps, advance technologies and accelerate development processes, maintain U.S. leadership in aerospace manufacturing, compete effectively in ground-vehicle manufacturing, and create new markets and gain market share for U.S. shipbuilding.


Background:   In both the commercial and the defense markets, large-scale structures such as ships, aircraft, and oil tanks, are now mostly manufactured using traditional materials and processing methods that have evolved over decades.  This is because the technology foundation to accurately model products and processes, and resolve deviations and uncertainties, is incomplete for the new, emerging technologies.  

In many cases, new materials (such as composites) and new processing capabilities (such as advanced joining) have been demonstrated on a small scale, but they often lack robustness and adaptability for broad use, especially on large-scale structures.  Maturation, qualification, and deployment of emerging technologies are so complex that replacing entrenched manufacturing methods is rarely a workable option.  What is needed are new ways to accurately design, model, analyze, test, and qualify new materials and new manufacturing processes for use on large-scale structures.
Approach:  The Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences, in collaboration with the National Center for Advanced Manufacturing, created the Center for Accelerated Development of Large-Scale Structures (CADLSS) consortium of stakeholders from the aerospace, shipbuilding, and ground transportation sectors, who addressed common challenges in design and manufacturing of large-scale structures.  The consortium addressed the technical barriers to the manufacturing of complex advanced large-scale structures, with a focus on two technology challenge areas: 1. tools that support an end-to-end integrated product-realization environment, with a strong emphasis on virtual product development, modeling, and simulation; and 2. rapid characterization, maturation, and deployment of radically improved manufacturing processes for large-scale structures.

The goals were to reduce the time, cost, and risk for developing advanced large-scale structures by:

  • Designing and producing new and better products
  • 50% reduction of development and qualification costs for large structures 
  • Shortening development times in half
  • Reducing the commercial risk inherent in scale-up from technology development through technology demonstration to technology commercialization

Outcome:  The workshops and focus groups defined more than 40 priority needs in four functional categories – product and process design;  component fabrication; joining and assembly; and testing and evaluation.  As part of the roadmap, 15 project concepts and 10 white papers were developed for the purpose of constructing a portfolio of high-priority R&D projects.

The roadmap concluded that current federal investments are not targeted at cross-cutting technologies, but rather at specific industry needs (e.g., aerospace, shipbuilding, or space).  In this regard, the roadmap could serve the role of “honest broker” by identifying cross-cutting technologies that may not be highly prioritized by a single agency, but can have a meaningful impact to the combined agencies’ needs. The roadmap may be helpful in identifying advanced technologies in one industry that can be readily adopted for use in other industries.  In the long term, the roadmap could aid in the development and delivery of  transformational advances in advanced technologies that will enhance the global competitiveness of U.S. Original Equipment Manufacturers that manufacture large structures and their supplier base.

Lead:  Louisiana Center for Manufacturing Sciences

Funded Participants: Integrated Manufacturing Technology Initiative (IMTI); David Williams, LLC; Louisiana State University; Keystone Synergistic Enterprises
Award Number: 70NANB15H074
Federal Funding: $500,000
Project Duration: 36 months
AMTech Project Manager: Thomas R. Lettieri

More information

Created July 9, 2018, Updated February 23, 2019