Aerospace Prototyping 101: How it Benefits Your Aerospace Company

Fri, May 07, 2021 at 2:55PM

Aerospace Prototyping 101: How it Benefits Your Aerospace Company

Manufacturers already know what goes into a safe and functional aircraft – robust airframes, reliable propulsion, redundancy for flight critical systems, and more. A critical step in the development of any new aerospace product is prototyping. The numerous benefits of aerospace prototyping include the ability for “hands-on” manipulation, which enables the assessment of assembly and maintenance procedures, as well as the evaluation of form, fit, and function of the prototype as part of any assembly. Prototypes are also ideal for testing sub-structures or full assemblies in relevant environments.

Before delving into how your aerospace company can benefit from aerospace prototyping, let us first cover the basics. Prototypes can range from sub-scale, rudimentary mock-ups meant to convey the shape and appearance of the component or assembly, all the way through working prototypes that have all the functionality the final product would. Aerospace prototypes run the gamut in terms of size, complexity, and use, and when properly implemented, prototypes allow system designs and engineers to evaluate options, gather data, and demonstrate functionality throughout the development process quickly and efficiently.

With a good understanding of how aerospace prototyping can be implemented to save your organization time and money, you will be empowered to bring innovative products to market quicker, cheaper, and safer than competitors. Read on to learn more about all the benefits of aerospace prototyping for your company.

#1) Freedom to design as much as necessary.

Prototypes can vary from simple components to complex assemblies and can be crucial to establishing confidence with new designs, materials, and manufacturing approaches. Prototyping at the component or assembly level can generally be done before a production line is established and can be an affordable way to allow aerospace companies to experiment, evaluate, and trade different design concepts. Oftentimes, several different prototypes will be developed before the final approach is determined.

#2) Confirm form, fit, and function.

To function safely, aerospace components are required to meet stringent dimensional, material, and processing requirements. With virtually no margin for error, aerospace companies can use prototypes to test components, sub-structures, and assemblies and evaluate the form, fit, and function – the characteristics which identify and describe a part or assembly. The proper implementation of prototyping can shorten the time from concept to production and reduce the likelihood of having to implement engineering changes after production has begun, which can be a costly, time-consuming process.

#3) Gain otherwise inaccessible insight.

Aerospace systems operate under a wide range of conditions ranging from benign to applications with extreme aerothermal loadings. With such a wide array of conditions that critical structures and systems must endure, it is crucial to test and evaluate designs at different stages of the design process. Aerospace prototyping enables companies to fabricate and perform many types of testing – including but not limited to structural, thermal, and environmental – at full scale and under relevant environments, providing valuable feedback to

#4) Spend less and learn more.

The proper implementation of a prototyping program can help keep the development of your aerospace system on time and under budget. Early in the development, mock-ups and small-scale prototypes can be instrumental in securing outside investment and down-selecting an approach. Later in the development process, relevant environment testing of full-scale sub-assemblies can reduce risk. Every project is unique, and the prototyping needs will vary. Therefore, it is important to evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis to make the most of your prototyping dollars.

How to find the best aerospace prototyping for your situation

Now that you better understand the numerous benefits of aerospace prototyping, there is a separate challenge altogether of finding the perfect prototyping service for your company. Each situation and prototype are unique and requires a certain skillset. Before choosing an aerospace prototyping service, narrow down the field by considering these things:

  • Understand what type of prototype you need – the complexity and cost of your prototype can vary greatly depending on what you need to accomplish. A mockup meant to convey shape and appearance may have a drastically different approach than a full-scale sub-assembly that is meant to be tested in a relevant environment.
  • Evaluate the capabilities and previous experience of the companies you are considering for your aerospace prototyping needs. The selected company should be familiar with the materials, manufacturing process, and testing that will be needed.
  • Talk to previous clients and check reviews wherever possible; these references will give you a better idea of what to expect.

For the best prototyping, look no further than Mentis Sciences, Inc. We apply over 25 years of experience to each of our projects – which has included development of the airframe and airborne electronics enclosures for the L3 Valkyrie Auto-Gyro System – ensuring the highest standards of innovative engineering and manufacturing solutions. Contact us today to learn more about our many offerings.

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