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The focus of the Sikorsky Innovations STEM Challenge 2012 was to reverse-engineer the engine mount for the F4U Corsair. The F4U Corsair is significant to the STEM Challenge as it was the product of Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft in the 1940s and being the only military aircraft to be completely built within one state, Connecticut, it was designated Connecticut’s Official State Aircraft in 2005. This F4U Corsair model was reverse-engineered utilizing the state-of-the-art technologies currently used in Connecticut’s aerospace and manufacturing industries.

White Light 3D Scanning Technology: Prior to building the Corsair model, 3D scan data was gathered by Bolton Works of Hartford through white light scanning technology which uses a white light source to project fringes onto an object; in this case, an original factory-built F4U Corsair model. The sensor of the white light scanner takes multiple images of the object during measurement and sends these images through computer software that triangulates the 3D coordinates of numerous points spaced all over the surface of the object.

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) Technology : To maximize build efficiency while minimizing user involvement, FDM Technology™ takes digital input from 3D data and creates solid 3D parts through an additive, layer-by-layer process. CAPINC built 13 Corsair models at a time in their Fortus 400mc Production System, with very little human interaction.

Once the 3D model or scan data is processed using insight preprocessing software that imports the necessary STL (Stereolithograph) files needed to generate the support structure and extrusion paths, thermoplastic filament is fed through a heated extrusion tip and simultaneously moved in two axes by use of a computer-controlled gantry system and X/Y servomotors. The servomotors are fitted with encoders that report their movement and position back to the computer to create a closed loop system. The machine produces two different types of tool paths, a contour and a raster. The contour forms the outline of the model and the raster fills in the middle while rotating between model material and support material every two layers.

Stratasys invented its patented FDM Technology™ in 1988 and has led the development of 3D printing technology ever since. The Corsair models are made with Stratasys ABS-M30 thermoplastic material donated by Stratasys for this purpose.

3D CAD Modeling with SolidWorks Computer Technology : SolidWorks is a powerful yet intuitive software that allows the user to create intricate 3D models, perform Stress and Flow Analysis (Finite Element Analysis (FEA) & Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) as well as motion studies to the parts and assemblies created therein. The Connecticut-shaped base was modeled as a 3D part and then converted to sheet metal. Using the flat pattern , a 2D drawing was created which was used in the laser cutting process by Trumpf. The 3D modeling showcases the top-quality end product.

Laser Cutting and Laser Marking Technology: Trumpf Inc . in Farmington used the SolidWorks model to laser cut and engrave the model base using Trumpf laser technology. The brushed stainless steel metal was cut using a focused laser beam that heats the material so much that it melts or even vaporizes. Once it has completely penetrated the workpiece, the cutting process begins. The laser beam moves along the part contour, melting the material as it goes. The gap is barely wider than t he focused laser beam itself allowing for the detailed coastline of Connecticut. To engrave the base, short but powerful laser pulses were used. The power densities are so high that the basic material or coating melts and evaporates or decomposes creating a depression in the workpiece.




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Last modified: September 18, 2012

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