Where does metal additive manufacturing add value to the aerospace and defense industry? Moog has been exploring this question since 2011. Moog’s products are utilized in mission-critical applications like steering a missile or keeping a satellite in orbit. The requirements that accompany these applications are some of the most arduous in the industry. To meet our customer’s needs, we developed an additive manufacturing strategy to mature processes to the point of field reliability. Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) metal additive technology was the best fit for us because of the dimensional resolution and surface finish requirements our products demanded.

Moog built additive expertise internally: this was a significant investment of training, resources and capital. The strategy also included having a centralized knowledge base that can serve Moog’s businesses globally. Moog proudly serves multiple industries; however, our diverse customer base brings unique challenges to the additive team. In 2018, Moog further invested in the technology by establishing a full vertically-integrated Additive Manufacturing Center (AMC) that can produce additive-qualified production parts. The AMC has the capability to design, print, final machine and analyze additive manufactured parts within the center. The necessary outlay helped further develop the technology beyond the use of prototypes. This investment led to many production applications now entering the early stages of manufacturing.

Recently, we have observed shifts in the demand for the faster development of new technology solutions. The military has been seeking opportunities to use additive manufacturing to sustain existing equipment in the field, but they are also interested in using it to reduce lead-time and gain performance advantages in new hardware. Secretary of the Army, Ryan D. McCarthy said, “Advanced manufacturing [including additive manufacturing] will fundamentally change the way the Army designs, delivers, produces and sustains materiel capabilities.” The acknowledgement that new manufacturing techniques will be an essential part of the military’s future is significant. The Army has been historically conservative with the use of new manufacturing methods, but because of these new directives, we are now seeing more openness for using the additive. The combination of understanding our customers’ stringent requirements and our ability to develop complicated, additive-enabled engineered solutions positions Moog well to serve the Military’s future demands.

Moog predicted additive manufacturing would be an important technology in the aerospace and defense industry. That vision is becoming a reality with new advanced technologies like hypersonic missiles that require innovative solutions to solve packaging, thermal and weight requirements. The advantages of LPBF metal additive provides is well suited for these technical challenges. Furthermore, Moog anticipates additive will be the manufacturing technology of choice because of the flexibility it offers to develop new design concepts rapidly.

Moog’s vision for manufacturing in the present and future will feature metal additive. Our customers in the aerospace and defense sector are expecting Moog to continue its legacy as an innovative partner that provides solutions to their most difficult technical challenges. Additive manufacturing is another tool where our engineers will expand their ability to fulfil that expectation. The value additive manufacturing provides is what we knew all along; it allows the ability to meet performance requirements that cannot be solved traditionally. We expect our expansive knowledge of additive technology to be a key differentiator for Moog and more importantly, for the defense of our nation.