Titanium alloys are as strong as steel at about half the weight, making them ideal materials for building advanced military aircraft like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. But before titanium could be fully integrated into aircraft manufacture, methods had to be found to efficiently cool the cutting tools.
In 2007, Creare, a New Hampshire based engineering firm, received an Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract to find a new way to cool machining tools. Instead of the traditional “flood cooling” method, which used harmful chemicals, Creare developed a way to run liquid nitrogen directly through the machine spindle and tool. Today, Lockheed Martin is using the cryogenic machining technology to cut titanium F-35 parts, significantly increasing efficiency and lowering costs.
Creare’s cryogenic machining technology is just one of many successful innovations enabled by the US Air Force’s SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. For more information, visit afsbirsttr.com.
JSF clearance: JSF17 –341