fluids, structural mechanics & acoustcs research areas
ARL Penn State has a great deal of experience and expertise in designing complex systems—such as vehicles, propulsion systems, pumping systems, and experimental tests with advanced instrumentation. The Systems Design Department provides mechanical design and drafting capability for these complex systems, primarily through the use of computer-aided design (CAD). For advanced propulsors, they determine how the blades, control surfaces, and other components attach to the vehicle and how one can incorporate items such as instrumentation into the propulsor. They also perform the mechanical design and internal arrangement of such items as shafts, motors, bearings, couplings, seals, ballast tanks, gear boxes, payload, and control-surface actuators, linkages, and stocks—ensuring that this internal arrangement and packaging satisfactorily interacts with the rest of the vehicle. In addition, they perform solid modeling and structural analysis of each individual part and of a system combination of these parts.
CAD systems also play an important role in the manufacture of complex systems by forming the environment for computer-aided manufacturing ( CAM). Numerically-controlled (NC) milling machines are often used to fabricate complex shapes, such as propulsor blades, and CAD/CAM systems are used to program these NC milling machines. Prior to the programming, one can run simulations of the cutting tool during the manufacturing process, to ensure that the tool can physically move to the desired positions without collisions. Drafting capabilities allow for dimensioning and the creation of component and assembly drawings. Finally, fabricated components should be inspected during and after the manufacturing process. Coordinate measuring machines can be used for the inspection process, and one can use the CAD/CAM system environment for programming and simulating these techniques. The Systems Design Department works directly with the Machine Shops under ARL Research Operations and the Composite Materials Division—as well as outside machine, foundry and fabrication shops—and coordinates much of the machining schedule.