Additive Manufacturing is moving at a fast place globally and it is providing defence forces an opportunity to have control over their supply chains for components, new product development and obsolescence management. India is also making rapid strides in adoption of Additive Manufacturing for defence requirements and CEMILAC is playing a pivotal role. To find out more about the current scenario, Aditya Chandavarkar, Managing Editor, AM Chronicle had the privilege to have an exclusive interaction with Shri APVS Prasad, Chief Executive (A), CEMILAC.
Shri APVS Prasad, heads the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), Department of Defence R&D, Ministry of Defence as its Chief Executive (A). He is an alumnus of Osmania University, Hyderabad and obtained B.E degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering in the year 1989. Subsequently he pursued higher studies and acquired M. Tech in Telecommunications, from IIT Kharagpur during the year 1997.
Shri APVS Prasad joined Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), DRDO in 1990 as a scientist and has close to 3 decades of experience in the research and development of Avionics Systems for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. He has worked as Programme Director of Rustom –II UAV and it is under his able guidance that R-II was successfully flight tested. His areas of interest are Design and Development of Data Links, Avionics, Payloads, Software defined Radios, Altimeters and Doppler Radars.
He took over as Chief Executive (Airworthiness), Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) on 31st May 2019. As CE (A), CEMILAC, he is spearheading the Airworthiness Certification of all development programmes of national importance viz., Military Aircraft, Helicopters, UAVs, Airborne Stores, Integration of weapons, Upgrade programs, Indigenization etc. As the head of 14 Regional Centres (RCMAs) spread all over India he is ensuring flight safety of all Military Airborne Vehicles / Stores of the nation.
Shri APVS Prasad has received many awards in recognition of his work in the development of UAVs. He was honoured with the DRDO ‘Scientist of the year award’ for the year 2016, ‘Technology Group Award’ for the year 2012 and also in 2017, CACE team award for the years 2009 and 2010 and ‘DRDO team award’ consecutively for the year 2004 and 2005.
He is a member of various prestigious professional bodies namely Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India, Computer Society of India (ASCI). He is also a panel coordinator for ARDB System Engineering Panel.
Aditya Chandavarkar: What are the objectives of CEMILAC and how is this role changing with fast moving disruptive technology is being introduced for manufacturing?
Shri APVS Prasad: CEMILAC is an airworthiness certification body responsible for the military airsystem and airborne stores in the country. It is primarily intended for carrying out technical airworthiness activities during design, development and production of Air Systems and Airborne Stores. It also participates in ongoing airworthiness activities and issuing instruments of technical airworthiness approvals to ensure the aircraft’s operational requirements and safety.
Recent PM’s Atmanirbhar Bharat mandate has motivated CEMILAC to be proactive. CEMILAC has started its involvement in the beginning of the project rather than at the end of the product design development cycle, called as concurrent certification approach. In this approach, CEMILAC provides upfront support to the Indian private sector so that they are clear with the certification requirements in the beginning to avoid costlier design modification at the later stage.
As a matter of fact, our scientists have that unique opportunity in the country to associate themselves with the best of the designers in the country and they have an excellent exposure to the various problems that a designer will face for certification. As a result, they share all of their knowledge with the new designers. That adds a lot of value to the entire certification process.
Aditya Chandavarkar: That’s a great approach. and Additive manufacturing is one such technology, which is redefining manufacturing today. So what advantages do you think this brings to the Indian defence organizations?
Shri APVS Prasad: Additive manufacturing is growing in Indian Military Aeronautics. Our Indian Air Force is one of the most unique in the world, operating anywhere from 35 to 40 different types of aircraft from the various country origin. Hence, we have wide varieties of Ab-initio and MRO components to be indigenized.
The cost of producing the components through traditional manufacturing processes is high due to the high volume requirements. The additive manufacturing fills this void in a unique way. The turnaround time for indigenous AM is quite short, and the second benefit is the cost savings.
Aditya Chandavarkar: That’s true, so at CEMILAC what strategies are you ensuring, So that additive manufacturing can be accepted as one of the technologies which can be utilized for component manufacturing.
Shri APVS Prasad: We have a very good team of people who are knowledgeable about additive manufacturing.
Our team have taken great initiative of interacting with all of the stakeholders (powder, machine and part) and created the synergy among them. This gave them the confidence that the certification is an easy process in India.
In addition, Contactless E-certification, a user-friendly website, and the development of an E- portal are other initiatives taken by CEMILAC that is expected to help development agencies immensely. With these initiatives, CEMILAC has shown a positive note of certification in India.
Aditya Chandavarkar: That is great to know that CEMILAC is walking extra mile to work with the
industry as well. But specific again to additive manufacturing. What challenges are being seen, let’s say on the material technology or testing agency which allows for further adoption?
Shri APVS Prasad: Time and money are major challenges in the AM technology. For example, the certification of single powder (Inconel 718) took about 8 months. There are several grades of powders, several types of AM processes. Once we certify a powder and process, we must also certify the component. It must go through the rigorous and time-consuming cycle of qualification tests. The investment for undertaking the qualification also adds to the investment.
Aditya Chandavarkar: What is the expectation from CEMILAC and the Indian defence from the Additive Manufacturing stakeholders from India?
Shri APVS Prasad: CEMILAC is the first certification body which has evolved the route to certification for additive manufacturing process and parts. This document covers qualification of powder and part comprehensively. In powders, CEMILAC has certified Inconel 718, a high-temperature engine material powder. In parts, CEMILAC has certified non-critical Al alloy fuel system components and mission critical steel inner ring. These accomplishments demonstrate that CEMILAC is a forerunner in the certification of AM parts. To advance to the certification of rotating critical parts, CEMILAC has taken initiatives to form a national committee to formulate certification criteria and, seminar/symposium are taken up recently.
Shri APVS Prasad: As AM is a very cost effective methodology for replacing an existing component with an indigenous component, CEMILAC wants industries to get their powders, machines, and components certified as soon as possible. Users have a list of components that they want to make using Additive Manufacturing technology as this technology meets their needs. Essentially Users have three requirements: (1) a quick turnaround time, (2) able to complete the component with minimal cost and documentation, (3) meet the low order quantity.
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