Saturday, March 30, 2013

Midwest Pilot vs Euro Factories of the Future

I wrote a bit previously about the midwest pilot to increase penetration of high performance computing and simulation into the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) of the US mid-western regional manufacturing supply chain. The similarity to the European 'factories of the future' program jumped out at me as I was reading the recent article in Aerospace America, 'International Beat: Printing your next vehicle'. The article describes the European program:
'Factories of the Future' was set up in 2009, a €1.2-billion public-private partnership between the EC and industry. The research program focuses on the development of new and sustainable technologies highlighted by the Ad-Hoc Industrial Advisory Group to the commission, to help EU manufacturing enterprises--in particular small and medium-sized enterprises--to adapt to global competitive pressures by improving their technological base.

Research areas include new models of production systems (transformable factories, networked factories, learning factories); ICT-based production systems and high-quality manufacturing technologies (including research into increasing autonomous production lines); and sustainable manufacturing tools, methodologies, and processes producing assemblies with complex and novel materials.

With the completion of the EC's seventh framework research program this year, EFFRA has been working to continue the research within the commission's new seven-year research program, Horizon 2020. This will focus on:
  • Advanced manufacturing processes.
  • Adaptive and smart manufacturing systems
  • Digital, virtual, and resource-efficient factories
  • Collaborative and mobile enterprises
  • Human-centered manufacturing
  • Customer-focused manufacturing
Contrast with this from the Council on Competitiveness:
The Council on Competitiveness and selected original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are developing a Midwestern regional pilot program as a public-private partnership with the U.S. federal government. The pilot program is aimed at improving competiveness and innovation in small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the U.S. manufacturing supply chain. The ultimate outcome of the pilot program will be a workforce with enhanced technical skills, improved product quality, better customization of products, and job retention and growth.


The high level goal of this pilot program is to develop and demonstrate a sustainable, scalable and replicable model for accelerating and broadening use of modeling, simulation and analysis (MS&A) in Midwestern SMEs through a public-private partnership (described below). Funding will be provided as seed money for this pilot program, with the expectation that it will demonstrate a path toward long-term sustainability. This is only achievable if (a) the supply chain members can rapidly reach a point where the results produce cost-benefits that allow and incentivize them to continue use of MS&A, either independently or within the continued context of the pilot program, and (b) software vendors can develop a business model that provides easier and more affordable access to software tools for SMEs.

These manufacturing competitiveness initiatives seem to be focused on additive manufacturing or 3D printing right as this technology peaks on Gartner's hype cycle.
3D Printing Tops the Gartner Hype Cycle 2012
Hopefully something useful will be left for us makers, hackers, engineers and small business owners when all the smoke clears and the twittering classes move on to the next big thing. I think this DIY Rocket thing is a clear indication of the heights of unreasonable expectations that we've reached. It is important to sift through the silliness because there's some really good and useful technology to be exploited here.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Playing around with SU2 Compressible Flow Solver

The folks at Stanford's Aerospace Design Lab have an open source solver called Stanford University Unstructured (SU2) (AIAA ASM 2013 paper). The nice thing about this code is that it does not have very many third-party dependencies, so you can just download the source and compile with a pretty plain vanilla system that is probably already installed on your Linux workstation of whatever flavor. There are lots of example input decks in the TestCases tarball so be sure to download that as well.

NACA0012, Mach=0.5, AoA=1.0 degrees, hybrid mesh
Few exotic dependencies and easy portability across systems is a definite plus, but one of the things I don't like so much about their development model is that you have to register to get the links to the source. The license may be GPL, but it's not really an open development model yet. I understand that this is a bit of an experiment with open source for the folks at Stanford, and they want to track how many visits and registrations they get, but I'd encourage them to go open all the way: let everyone have read access to the repo without registration; put it up on git and let a bunch of forks bloom!

Friday, March 15, 2013

HIFiRE Flight 1 Seminar at UMich

If you are in the University of Michigan area there is a seminar about HIFiRE Flight 1 Boundary Layer Transition experiment.
  • AE 585 Seminar Series: 'HIFIRE-1 Hypersonic Flight Test', by Dr. Roger Kimmel of Air Force Research Laboratory
  • March 21, 2013 / 4:00PM
  • Boeing Lecture Hall, FXB
Details on the University of Michigan site here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Coefficient of Thermal Expansion Mismatch: Shapeways Steel-Bronze Composite

Bronze 420 Steel
CTE (ppm/oF) 10.3 5.7
Conductivity (Btu/(hr oF ft)) 15 14.4
The DIYROCKET organization is sponsoring a contest to design a 3-D printed rocket for nano-satellite launch (coverage on Parabolic Arc and Make). Shapeways is one of the competition's sponsors so one of the rules is that you have to use their metal 3-D printing process. The process is not direct to metal, i.e. directly melts the final part material. Their process melts a polymer binder to 'glue' stainless steel powder into the shape of the part, the plastic is then burned out of this green part, and the voids are infused with bronze. The result is a steel-bronze composite with either 30% or 40% (by volume? weight?) bronze content (different parts of the Shapeways site have different numbers).

Friday, March 8, 2013

SciPy John Hunter Excellence in Plotting Competition

In conjunction with the SciPy 2013 Conference there will be an excellence in plotting competition sponsored by NumFocus as a memorial to the former lead developer of matplotlib, John Hunter.

Entries are due by email no latter than 2 April 2013. The cash prizes are

  • 1st prize: $500
  • 2nd prize: $200
  • 3rd prize: $100
Here are the instructions:
  • Plots may be produced with any combination of Python-based tools (it is not required that they use matplotlib, for example).
  • Source code for the plot must be provided, along with a rendering of the plot in a vector format (PDF, PS, etc.). If the data can not be shared for reasons of size or licensing, "fake" data may be substituted, along with an image of the plot using real data.
  • Entries will be judged on their clarity, innovation and aesthetics, but most importantly for their effectiveness in illuminating real scientific work. Entrants are encouraged to submit plots that were used during the course of research, rather than merely being hypothetical.
  • SciPy reserves the right to display the entry at the conference, use in any materials or on its website, providing attribution to the original author(s).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

GBU-8 Photogrammetry

More photogrammetry. This uses the same software tool chain I described before. Still needs a bit of work on surface reconstruction. I always underestimate how many pictures are needed to get a reasonable point cloud: more is better.

I took the pictures of the GBU-8 at the NMUSAF. The surprising thing to me was the landing gear on the aircraft in the background showing up so well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Drone Marketing, Same Song Second Verse

I enjoy these advertising shorts. Nothing new under the sun (well, the cartoons have improved).

Update: A new one from LockMart.