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14 Jan 20. Oxley Receives Double Honours in The Manufacturer Top 100. Oxley Group CEO Darren Cavan and Marketing Manager Jayne Moorby have been selected in The Manufacturer Top 100. The Manufacturer’s annual awards for the 100 most inspirational individuals working in UK industry were announced at a gala reception at the Exhibition Centre, Liverpool. The Manufacturer Top 100 awards scheme is run by The Manufacturer magazine, in partnership with Cranfield University, one of the country’s top centres of business education. The project publicly recognises the most dynamic leaders and innovators in manufacturing.
Oxley CEO, Darren Cavan was named in the category of Inspiring Leader, this category recognises leaders who have created stable employment whilst remaining committed to investing in developing their manufacturing business through people, processes and technology.
Darren has worked in engineering and manufacturing for his whole career, including 25 years at Oxley; starting as an instrument technician and moving up through the company to his appointment as Group CEO in 2018. The Oxley strategy is to double turnover in five years and treble it in ten years and Oxley are on track to achieve that through Darren’s leadership. Darren puts his success down to effective strategy deployment, good communication and gaining the respect of his team through empowerment; enabling the team to deliver success.
Marketing Manager, Jayne Moorby was recognised in the category of Driver of Cultural Change, awarded to those who alter popular perceptions of manufacturing and inspire young people and women. Jayne has been involved in delivering cultural change within Oxley focusing communication and team spirit, with a return to the family values that Freddy Oxley originally instilled in the business.
Jayne has led Oxley’s community outreach programme, supporting over 12,000 local young people with employability skills and inspiring local talent into aerospace and STEM careers. Alongside this Oxley has driven best practice nationally through the Women in Aviation & Aerospace and Women in Defence Charters.
Top 100 awardees are drawn from every walk of UK industry and these are the people who put the Great into British manufacturing. They are selected from hundreds of nominations for the examples they set to young people aspiring to a career in industry; 100 unique and uplifting stories of struggle, determination and success against all the odds, personal tales of individuals helping to drive UK manufacturing forward and draw young people into sector.
Notes to Editors
The Manufacturer Top 100 is part of the Digital Manufacturing Week series of events held at the Exhibition Centre in Liverpool on 13th to 15th of November.
The Manufacturer – @TheManufacturer
Published by Hennik Research Ltd, The Manufacturer is premier UK industry publication providing news, features, analysis and insights. It prides itself on promoting the best manufacturing and engineering practices, people, policy and businesses in both the UK and around the world.
16 Jan 20. AFRL’s X-60A programme achieves key developmental milestone. The US Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) X-60A hypersonic flight research vehicle has completed integrated vehicle propulsion system verification ground testing.
Development of the air-launched rocket is currently in progress with Generation Orbit Launch Services as part of an AFRL Small Business Innovation Research contract.
X-60A is a single-stage liquid rocket that uses liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. It can be launched from a modified business jet carrier aircraft.
Hypersonic technologies such as airbreathing propulsion, advanced materials and hypersonic vehicle subsystems can be tested using X-60A.
AFRL X-60A programme manager Barry Hellman said: “This test series was a critical step in reducing risk and gathering necessary system integration data in preparation for our upcoming flight tests.
“When we go to flight later this year, we hope to demonstrate the capability of the X-60A to provide affordable access to hypersonic flight conditions, which will position AFRL to deliver an innovative test capability for the airforce and other DoD organisations.”
The main objective of the X-60A programme is to allow the US Air Force to mature technologies under hypersonic flight conditions.
The key developmental testing milestone included cold-flow and hot-fire testing with the Hadley liquid rocket engine. It has been developed by Ursa Major Technologies.
Flight-like operational procedures were used for the testing of hardware.
Testing also covered full-duration burns, engine gimbaling for thrust vector control, and system throttling.
The forthcoming flight tests are to be conducted in Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida, US. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
16 Jan 20. MIT reveals new approach to manufacturing aerospace components. A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have demonstrated the effective use of carbon nanotube film in the manufacture of complex aerospace components, without the costly and expansive infrastructure of traditional manufacturing.
A modern airplane’s fuselage is made from multiple sheets of different composite materials, like so many layers in a phyllo-dough pastry.
Once these layers are stacked and molded into the shape of a fuselage, the structures are wheeled into warehouse-sized ovens and autoclaves, where the layers fuse together to form a resilient, aerodynamic shell.
MIT engineers have developed a method to produce aerospace-grade composites without the enormous ovens and pressure vessels. The technique may help to speed up the manufacturing of airplanes and space vehicles and other large, high-performance composite structures, such as blades for wind turbines.
Brian Wardle, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, explained the importance of the breakthrough: “If you’re making a primary structure like a fuselage or wing, you need to build a pressure vessel, or autoclave, the size of a two- or three-story building, which itself requires time and money to pressurise.
“These things are massive pieces of infrastructure. Now we can make primary structure materials without autoclave pressure, so we can get rid of all that infrastructure.”
Professor Wardle’s co-authors on the paper are lead author and MIT post doctoral candidate Jeonyoon Lee, and Seth Kessler of Metis Design Corporation, an aerospace structural health monitoring company based in Boston.
Lee led the team, along with another member of Professor Wardle’s lab, in creating a method to make aerospace-grade composites without requiring an oven to fuse the materials together.
Instead of placing layers of material inside an oven to cure, the researchers essentially wrapped them in an ultra-thin film of carbon nanotubes (CNTs).
When they applied an electric current to the film, the CNTs, like a nanoscale electric blanket, quickly generated heat, causing the materials within to cure and fuse together.
With this out-of-oven, or OoO, technique, the team was able to produce composites as strong as the materials made in conventional airplane manufacturing ovens, using only 1 per cent of the energy.
The researchers next looked for ways to make high-performance composites without the use of large, high-pressure autoclaves — building-sized vessels that generate high enough pressures to press materials together, squeezing out any voids, or air pockets, at their interface.
Professor Wardle explained, “There’s microscopic surface roughness on each ply of a material, and when you put two plys together, air gets trapped between the rough areas, which is the primary source of voids and weakness in a composite. An autoclave can push those voids to the edges and get rid of them.”
Researchers including Professor Wardle’s group have explored “out-of-autoclave”, or OoA, techniques to manufacture composites without using the huge machines.
However, most of these techniques have produced composites where nearly 1 per cent of the material contains voids, which can compromise a material’s strength and lifetime. In comparison, aerospace-grade composites made in autoclaves are of such high quality that any voids they contain are neglible and not easily measured.
Part of Professor Wardle’s work focuses on developing nanoporous networks — ultra-thin films made from aligned, microscopic material such as carbon nanotubes that can be engineered with exceptional properties, including colour, strength and electrical capacity.
The researchers wondered whether these nanoporous films could be used in place of giant autoclaves to squeeze out voids between two material layers, as unlikely as that may seem.
A thin film of carbon nanotubes is somewhat like a dense forest of trees, and the spaces between the trees can function like thin nanoscale tubes, or capillaries. A capillary such as a straw can generate pressure based on its geometry and its surface energy, or the material’s ability to attract liquids or other materials.
The researchers proposed that if a thin film of carbon nanotubes were sandwiched between two materials, then, as the materials were heated and softened, the capillaries between the carbon nanotubes should have a surface energy and geometry such that they would draw the materials in towards each other, rather than leaving a void between them.
Lee calculated that the capillary pressure should be larger than the pressure applied by the autoclaves.
The researchers tested their idea in the lab by growing films of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes using a technique they previously developed, then laying the films between layers of materials that are typically used in the autoclave-based manufacturing of primary aircraft structures.
They wrapped the layers in a second film of carbon nanotubes, which they applied an electric current to to heat it up. They observed that as the materials heated and softened in response, they were pulled into the capillaries of the intermediate CNT film.
The resulting composite lacked voids, similar to aerospace-grade composites that are produced in an autoclave. The researchers subjected the composites to strength tests, attempting to push the layers apart, the idea being that voids, if present, would allow the layers to separate more easily.
Professor Wardle added, “In these tests, we found that our out-of-autoclave composite was just as strong as the gold-standard autoclave process composite used for primary aerospace structures. There are ways to make really large blankets of this stuff, and there’s continuous production of sheets, yarns and rolls of material that can be incorporated in the process.”
He plans also to explore different formulations of nanoporous films, engineering capillaries of varying surface energies and geometries, to be able to pressurise and bond other high-performance materials.
“Beyond airplanes, most of the composite production in the world is composite pipes, for water, gas, oil, all the things that go in and out of our lives. This could make making all those things, without the oven and autoclave infrastructure,” Professor Wardle added.
This research was supported, in part, by Airbus, ANSYS, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, Saab AB, Saertex and Teijin Carbon America through MIT’s Nano-Engineered Composite aerospace Structures (NECST) Consortium. (Source: Space Connect)
15 Jan 20. Leonardo DRS sees growing USN interest in electric propulsion. The inclusion of electric propulsion systems in future US Navy (USN) platforms, such as Columbia-class submarine, a guided-missile frigate, and the next large-surface combatant, underscores a growing need for such systems, according to Jamie McMullin, senior director of business development for Leonardo DRS Naval Power Systems business.
“We’re rapidly moving toward an electrified world,” said McMullin. “Our focus is to get solutions embedded into [the] navy so the fuel savings and stealth benefits can be realised by the operators.
“Ship requirements are more focused on acquisition cost and not performance,” he added.
Long-term relevance and performance is a critical issue for platforms like the Columbia-class ship, whose operations and survival depend on its electric-propulsion stealth attributes. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Jan 20. DARPA announces qualified teams for SubT Challenge. The US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced 17 qualified teams for the Subterranean (SubT) Challenge Urban Circuit that seeks to better equip warfighters and first responders to explore uncharted and dangerous underground environments.
A total of 11 teams will compete in the ‘Systems’ competition, which will take place at Satsop Business Park in Elma, Washington from 18 to 27 February.
Eight teams will participate in the ‘Virtual’ competition, which is set to run from 23 to 30 January, while two teams will compete in both the ‘Virtual’ and ‘Systems’ events.
As part of the DARPA Subterranean Challenge, warfighters and first responders will be equipped to explore human-made tunnel systems, the urban underground, and natural cave networks.
The SubT Challenge Systems and ‘Virtual’ competitions will create a community of multidisciplinary teams from various fields to adopt breakthrough technologies in autonomy, perception, networking, and mobility for underground environments.
The Tunnel Circuit took place in August last year, while the Cave Circuit is planned for August this year.
DARPA is targeting a ‘Final Event’ incorporating all three underground environments for August 2021.
In order to compete in the ‘Systems’ competition, each team is required to demonstrate baseline performance capabilities and suitable safety measures.
These teams will deploy autonomous ground and aerial systems to attempt to accurately identify and map as many artefacts as possible accurately along two competition courses.
The solutions of qualified ‘Virtual’ competitors can be submitted through the SubT Virtual Portal during the submission window.
Each team can select from a repository of robot models and a variety of sensors and assemble an eSports style solution to map, navigate, and search dark, dangerous underground environments.
Last October, DARPA completed a preliminary design review of a two-stage tactical missile system. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Jan 20. Why the military might want robots that heal. A legged robot that breaks on the battlefield is a liability. But new research into self-healing joints for legged robots could pave the way to a future of autonomous, self-repairing machines. Legged robots have value for infantry because they allow machines to traverse inclines and rough terrain that’s ill-suited for wheels. In addition, legs can carry robots up ladders and over walls. Its one reason the United States has pursued multiple iterations of robot dogs for military use.
But if a leg breaks in the field, soldiers depending on that robot are left with a handful of unpleasant options.
If the unit has spare parts, they could halt and attempt an in-field repair. If the unit doesn’t the equipment, or doesn’t have time, they can abandon the robot in the hopes that friendly forces will recover it later. Or they can destroy the robot to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, losing not just the ability to carry supplies but spending finite resources wrecking it.
All of this is a knock against legged robots.
But new research, by the University of Tokyo’s JSK Lab and reported by IEEE Spectrum in December, used special joints, liquid metal and heat to let a robot break its leg and then heal.
The design solves two problems at once: by preparing a joint to break, the robot can protect its remaining joints in the fall, and by making the joint that breaks one that can “heal”, the robot is only out of commission for a short time.
“Healing” here is a sort of automated repair. Around the joint is a module of magnets and springs that is designed to separate and then come back together when the joint breaks. The joint is made of an alloy that melts at 122 degrees. The module holds the alloy in place and then melts with internal heaters. The whole process takes about 30 minutes, and leaves a leg weaker than before, but far more functional than if it had just remained broken.
For military planners and designers, the method of a self-healing joint enables robot design that can accompany humans without the risk of becoming a special burden. A little forgiveness in design and automated repair can go a long way to supporting imperfect navigation or climbing systems, especially as the robots are new and there is limited data on which they have been trained.
While the healing takes time, a squad in the field can take a short pause and focus on self-protection while the robot repairs itself. Even if the robot is no longer able to go forward, it could be sent autonomously back to base, essentially walking itself in for repair.
Long-term, automated self-repair is a feature worth exploring in any autonomous systems designed to operate far from humans. The more self-sufficient a robot can be, the more humans can trust it to perform tasks without direct supervision. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
10 Jan 20. UAV Landing Made Safer. Manta Air, an Israeli technology company in the security field specialises in the development and manufacture of parachutes and advanced air-bags for UAVs, parachutes for missiles and aerial resupply systems. The company is the only manufacturer in the world of air-bags for multi-rotors.
Manta Air has been chosen as a partner by world-leading military forces, companies, and organizations, such as Elbit Systems, Rafael, Aeronautics, Percepto, IAI, Blue Bird, the IDF, and more.
Manta Air’s excellence goes far beyond technology, materials or meeting the most stringent standards. Its activity is based on the unique combination of vast knowledge, excellent people, a leading management structure, and a strategy focused on innovation and market needs.
Parachutes and Air-Bags for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Manta Air’s unique approach has been reflected by the professional development process of each air-bag, tailor-made to the specific aircraft. The process in Manta Air was specially designed to fully integrate with organizations and military forces that develop UAV and multi-rotor drone systems.
- Development: The engineering team expertizing in aeronautics, textile, and manufacturing, will plan a detailed design and manage the production floor in order to assemble several prototypes for field testing. The development takes into account the aircraft’s specific features in order to optimally secure the fuselage, avionics, and optics.
- Field Tests: The field tests team will prepare the process, specify the test and control mechanisms, coordinate with the regulatory organizations (civil aviation authority, firing range coordination, insurance, etc.) and will implement the test. Following the test, the customer receives a report with detailed conclusions and video documentation.
- Serial Production: Following the development process and the final definition of the product, the production planning and control team will manage the serial production of the product in the company’s factory in Hadera, Israel, and will be coordinated with the customer’s purchasing and engineering departments.
- Support and Maintenance Service: Maintenance, instruction, folding and adjustments are the final but most important stages in the process. After the supply, Manta Air’s team supports the customer and operator with a quality service and operation, providing the operator with peace of mind, turning him into a partner, the Go To of the parachute and air-bag world.
Drone Emergency Systems – Parachutes and Air-Bags for Multi-Rotors
Manta Air has been the only manufacturer in the world of air-bags for multi-rotors. In extreme situations, when a drone loses control, communications, or power, a parachute is the only way to safeguard the expensive equipment. In spite of the effectivity of the parachute, the payload is vulnerable at emergency landings because it is usually located at the lower part of the aircraft.
Manta Air develops dedicated air-bags adjusted to the equipment carried by the drone, for any size and mission. The system includes an inflation mechanism, engine cutoff, etc.
The engineering process includes mapping of the system engineer’s requirements, planning and developing textile and sewing accordingly.
The company, operating since 2004, employs at its factory in Hadera some 20 workers from various disciplines along the supply chain of the parachutes and air-bags for drones.
The combination of rich technological experience and excellence, with innovation and understanding of the customer’s changing tactical needs have turned Manta Air into a leading player at the unmanned vehicles recovery systems market. (Source: UAS VISION/iHLS)
10 Jan 20. Rolls-Royce to develop electrical technology for Tempest programme. Rolls-Royce is developing world-first electrical technology that will contribute to the UK’s Tempest next-generation fighter aircraft programme. The UK, Sweden and Italy are together developing the Tempest future combat jet, which is expected to enter operational service in 2035. It will offer sixth-generation combat capabilities to the airforces of the three countries. Team Tempest is a group of industry partners, including BAE Systems, Leonardo, Rolls-Royce and MBDA, working with the UK Ministry of Defence on the project.
Prior to the Tempest programme launch, Rolls-Royce had already started to address the demands of the future.
In 2014, the company designed an electrical starter-generator that was fully embedded in the core of a gas turbine engine, which is currently called the Embedded Electrical Starter Generator (E2SG) demonstrator programme.
Rolls-Royce future programmes chief engineer Conrad Banks said: “The electrical embedded starter-generator will save space and provide the large amount of electrical power required by future fighters.
“Existing aircraft engines generate power through a gearbox underneath the engine, which drives a generator. In addition to adding moving parts and complexity, the space required outside the engine for the gearbox and generator makes the airframe larger, which is undesirable in a stealthy platform.”
The company has adopted phase two of the E2SG programme for the Tempest programme. As part of the phase one launch of this programme, an integrated electrical test house was developed where gas turbine engines can be physically connected to a DC electrical network.
The second phase of the project was launched in 2017 and involved the inclusion of a second electrical generator connected to the other spool of the engine, and an energy storage system in the electrical network.
Rolls-Royce is investigating the feasibility of using dual spool generation as part of the E2SG programme. The company will continue to mature the electrical technologies demonstrated by the programme throughout the Tempest programme. The third phase of testing is expected to include a novel thermal management system being integrated with the overall system. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
Oxley Group Ltd
Oxley specialises in the design and manufacture of advanced electronic and electro-optic components and systems for air, land and sea applications within the military sector. Established in 1942, Oxley has manufacturing facilities in the UK and USA and enjoys representation worldwide. The company’s products include night vision and LED lighting, data capture systems and electronic components. Oxley has pioneered the development of night vision compatible lighting. It offers a total package incorporating optical filters, equipment modification, cockpit and external lighting along with fleet wide upgrade services including engineering, installation, support, maintenance and training. The company’s long experience of manufacturing night vision lighting and LED indicators, coupled with advances in LED technology, has enabled it to develop LED solutions to replace incandescent and fluorescent lighting in existing applications as well as becoming the lighting option of choice in new applications such as portable military hospitals, UAV control stations and communication shelters.