AFRL Inspire 2023
Dr. Andrew Gillman, a research materials engineer based in the Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL’s, Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, delivers a speech titled “Striking Where the Innovation’s Hot” at the seventh annual AFRL Inspire event at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Kenney Hall, Oct. 26, 2023. Gillman described his experience working as part of an extended team of collaborators from industry, academia and government to find a solution to lack of agility in the manufacturing supply chain. Recently, the DAF has confronted challenges in maintaining fleet readiness, Gillman said, as there is an immediate need to obtain small lots of customizable aircraft replacement parts that many manufacturers do not make anymore. To help solve this problem, Gillman and his team developed a robotic blacksmithing system that uses incremental forming to craft small lots of customized manufactured parts. The robotic system models the consistency, reliability and agility of a human blacksmith, Gillman said, and can make significant forming decisions on its own without the need for a human operator. (U.S. Air Force photo / Cherie Cullen)

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