Baker Industries and Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions Establish Strategic Relationship with GA-ASI on Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study

Baker Industries GA ASI 3D printed steel layup

GA-ASI's 3D-printed steel layup tool being CNC-machined at Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, in Macomb, Michigan

I3DPN Core Team

Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, and Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions (LEAS) today announced a new strategic relationship with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) on a research and development project exploring the feasibility of wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) for producing steel layup tooling used in the manufacturing of composite lamination for GA-ASI’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

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GA-ASI sought a solution for complex tooling that was repeatable, accurate, vacuum-tight, and rigid enough to withstand the stress and fatigue caused by repetitive autoclave cycles. After a collaborative review of several tool geometries and requirements, the companies’ engineering teams determined that WAAM could be the right solution.

“Our turnaround time can be significantly quicker than larger job shops, and we can usually ramp up production quickly to combat fluctuations in customer demand,” says Mike Wangelin, Business Development Manager at Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions and Baker Industries. Coupled with Baker’s robust post-processing, fabrication, and inspection capabilities, WAAM’s ability to quickly produce large, complex components using several materials could present a comprehensive solution to GA-ASI’s production tooling needs.

While still in the process of qualification at GA-ASI, the process has demonstrated preliminary success toward reaching production-level use in GA-ASI’s manufacturing operations. Overall, GA-ASI has seen savings ranging between 30-40% in cost and about 20-30% in lead time using WAAM in place of traditional manufacturing processes for specific tool families and geometries. In addition, the first tool produced has passed GA-ASI’s initial assessments. It is vacuum-tight, has a uniform thermal survey, and exceeds target GD&T requirements.

Profile Tolerance –

Target GD&T: 0.020″

Actual Measurements: -0.0039″ / +0.0058″

True Position Hole Location –

Target GD&T: 0.020″

Actual Measurements: 0.0009″ / 0.0037″

Vacuum Integrity –

Target GD&T: 0.5 inHg/10 min.

Actual Measurements: 0.2 inHg loss

About Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company

Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, is an industry-leading supplier to OEM and Tier 1 manufacturers in the world’s most demanding industries. With five state-of-the-art facilities, a robust collection of equipment, and a workforce of hundreds in Macomb, Michigan, Baker is one of the industry’s most diversified and capable suppliers of tooling, prototyping, CNC machining, fabrication, additive manufacturing, and more. For more information, visit www.bakerindustriesinc.com.

About Lincoln Electric

Lincoln Electric is the world leader in the design, development, and manufacture of arc welding products, automated joining, assembly and cutting systems, plasma and oxy-fuel cutting equipment, and has a leading global position in brazing and soldering alloys. Headquartered in Cleveland, OhioLincoln has 55 manufacturing locations in 18 countries and a worldwide network of distributors and sales offices covering more than 160 countries. For more information about Lincoln Electric and its products and services, visit the Company’s website at www.lincolnelectric.com.

About General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable, and certified Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. With more than seven million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. GA-ASI also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas. For more information, visit www.ga-asi.com.

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