Caitlin_Wide (2)Caitlin Oswald is an Additive Manufacturing Specialist at LAI International – Leading Advanced Innovations. The company is a precision contract manufacturer who has added Additive Manufacturing capability to provide parts to the Aerospace, Defense, Medical, and Energy industries. She gained her aerospace additive manufacturing credentials from her 6 years at Pratt & Whitney where she lead technical and manufacturing readiness level programs for additive manufacturing and was a project manager for various additive development programs. Caitlin has produced 3D printed components that have been used in everything from tooling, to fit-checks, to running test engines. Her role now at LAI International is focusing on bringing the technology through the necessary qualification and validation steps to get parts into flying production engines. 

Thanks to her work and research on the use of Additive Manufacturing into the aeronautic industry, Caitlin received a STEP [Science Technology Engineering and Production] Award from the National Institute of Manufacturing and was also recognized by the Fast Company publication in 2015 as one of the top 100 Most Creative People in Business. We’ll talk about her vision and thoughts on how to encourage more women to join the tech and engineering field here as well.

Caitlin, could you let us know about your background and how you became involved with Additive Manufacturing?

I have a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Connecticut, which lead me to my first job at Pratt & Whitney in their component test lab. This lab was where I was first introduced to the technology because they were testing some of the components made by some of the first metal 3D printers.

What was your very first experience with 3D printing?

Once I learned more about the technology and joined the Additive Manufacturing Group at Pratt & Whitney, 3D printing became my full time job. I was focused on the Electron Beam Melting Powder Bed technology, using Titanium 6-4 material. I was amazed at how fun it was to have such a quick turnaround between the build designs to having parts in our hands in a number of days. Most engineers are used to waiting weeks, even months, before they see parts they have designed.  

Not everyone if familiar with the Electron Beam Melting Powder Bed technology, could you explain this 3D printing technology process? 

EBM is in the “powder bed” category of 3D printing. It basically uses an energy source from above, which melts a 2D cross section on a build table of powder below. Once one layer is melted, the build table moves down 90 microns and another layer of powder is spread across the table. The electron beam then melts the 2nd cross section, and consecutively each layer is melted on top of the prior to build up the 3D printed part.

Why using EBM in aerospace? 

This process uses the Titanium 6-4 alloy, which is widely used in aerospace due to its strength and weight characteristics, which makes it a natural fit for 3D printing. The process prints parts faster than some of the other laser powder bed techniques, and in addition there is in-situ heat treatment which reduces the need for post stress relief, as well as gains the ability to utilize the entire build area to nest many production parts into one build. 

What are the main challenges you facing when using Additive Manufacturing? 

Many times we run into customers who lack an understanding of design for additive manufacturing principles. Because of this, we have introduced Additive Manufacturing Training modules (from novice to expert) to help with design for additive, choosing the right parts, creating the best business cases, etc. When we partner with companies on a solid educational foundation, we have great success in reaching quality parts.

Any specific challenges faced internally when introducing the technology? 

The technology is still new compared to the conventional subtractive methods, and because of this there are challenges that have risen both technically and culturally. There is a significant amount of technical work to do to prove material and manufacturing quality and consistency, and in addition education needs to be used from the manufacturing floor to the executive teams to realize additive is a value added technology that still needs the background engineering due diligence to succeed.

Is the use of Additive Manufacturing frequent in the aeronautics industry? 

The frequency of AM in aerospace is steadily increasing as more parts are identified and redesigned to take advantage of the technology. In addition, companies are beginning to have a good database of material properties to rely on the performance characteristics of the parts. As the amount of case studies grow, so will the frequency of use.

On a more global level, what do you think of the 3D printing industry today? 

I think the metal 3D printing industry is starting to drive to consistency. As we see the industry committees start to create specifications, more quality requirements will be driven into all of the service bureaus wanting to supply aerospace quality parts. The expectations on quality and process are starting to flow from places like the FAA, Department of Defense, and the Aerospace OEM’s which all are in agreement on how crucial it is to have a qualified additive manufacturing process.

In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D printing?

I think the consumer/desktop 3D printing industry is helping encourage more women to become involved. I am a strong advocate of promoting girls to explore STEM at a young age. When I see middle schools and high schools with 3D printers letting girls discover if they see a passion for the technology, it not only encourages them into 3D printing, but math and science in general.


 

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Nora is a 3D Printing expert since 2010, particularly skilled at building strategic alliances and strong business relationships.
Named among the 20 most influential women in Additive Manufacturing every year since 2015, Nora also received the Certificate of Honor in Manufacturing by the City of San Francisco in 2017 for her work with Women in 3D Printing, and was awarded Community Advocate of the year 2018 by her peers.

She started her career in Additive Manufacturing in 2010 by joining 3D Printing service leader, Sculpteo.

Nora joined Ivaldi Group in 2018. Ivaldi Group leverages cutting-edge additive manufacturing solutions to provide on-site parts on demand services for various industries. Drawing on a breadth of additive manufacturing industry experience, Ivaldi Group works across a range of stakeholders to digitize product portfolios and improve cost, risk and delivery for all parties, providing a Part Replacement as a Service solution.
As the VP of Strategy, Nora works closely with the CEO to build and implement the company's strategies in various segments: from core business value to customer relationship and parts production and delivery.

Nora founded Women in 3D Printing in 2014 to promote women leaders in the Additive Manufacturing industry. She also co-initiated and co-organizes #3DTalk, an industry-specific and educational event series featuring women in the 3D Printing and related industries. #3DTalks are global events hosted in various cities across the USA and Europe.

Pursuing her vision for more social inclusion, she joined 3D Africa as Board Advisor. 3D Africa is a youth and women economic empowerment program developed by the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), a nonprofit organization with years of experience combining education, technology, and economic development to transform economically challenged populations into self-sustainable communities. 3D Africa is part of the YTF’s Clinton Global Initiative 2016 Commitment to Action.

Comments (3)

  1. Pingback: Leslie Frost – “Aerospace is in its infancy with 3D printing and it is just beginning to realize the true capabilities of additive manufacturing” | Women in 3D Printing

  2. Pingback: Monica Smith – “I have the opportunity to see many different applications for our technology and bring my expertise into each industry”” | Women in 3D Printing

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