By Ms. Christy Barnett (ATEC)May 13, 2019
For the past ten years, Department of the Army Experimental Developer, Dr. Kevin Minor, has worked to advance the science of aviation component failure analysis and materials analysis at the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center (RTC). Minor's work also supports new technology and material insertion in the Army Aviation fleet, and he is also developing new techniques and processes necessary to analyze and evaluate performance and failure mechanisms in additive manufacturing and composite components.
Over the years the highest priority failure analysis problems have been directed to Minor due to his cutting-edge knowledge and ability. As a result of his efforts, the test community has been able to provide cause and corrective action recommendations to Army leadership in an expedited manner.
"The effectiveness of Dr. Minor's analysis and products have been recognized by senior Army leaders on multiple programs. His individual dedication, knowledge, expertise, and leadership in this critical analysis and testing led directly to improved quality and safe equipment for the Warfighter. Dr. Minor's technical innovation and leadership are invaluable resources to RTC and to the US Army", said Steve Nine, director of RTC's Environmental and Component Test Directorate.
Minor's efforts are now being honored with the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Army Government Civilian Tester of the Year Award. The Award was presented at the 34th annual Test and Evaluation Conference awards luncheon in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
Among the criteria in selecting Minor for the NDIA award were the multiple benefits that have come about from his testing: Army leadership is able to make quick and informed decisions concerning the safety of aviation platforms; multiple test and analysis efforts were accomplished in 2018 to ensure the safety of the warfighter and readiness of critical aviation platforms; and cost savings were realized as the government analysis was a fraction of the cost of the original equipment manufacturer.
On the forefront of Minor's developments is the testing of Additive Manufacturing components. What is Additive Manufacturing? Think 3-D printing that could change the way components are manufactured.
"Additive manufacturing is the latest technology receiving industry-wide attention, and the Army has directed us to look into additive manufacturing components," explained Minor. "Over a short period of time, we have advanced capabilities within RTC that would allow our customers interested in additive manufacturing to supply us with a component or drawing where we can develop a CAD model the customer can take and have the component printed."
Minor stated that once the component is printed, RTC can perform final machining with five axis CNC capabilities; perform dimensional analysis with state of the art metrology equipment; test the component in overload, fatigue, etc.; perform failure and materials analysis; and provide the customer with the necessary data for them to make informed decisions on how to proceed. Minor said that other than the actual printing of the components, RTC is a one-stop shop for the additive manufacturing needs of our customers.
"We are currently working with customers to test aviation components produced via additive manufacturing," explained Minor. "If the components we are testing are comparable to those currently in service, they should be candidates for actual flight testing which would mark a first for U.S. Army Aviation".
"It's more of a demonstration of the technology at this point," explained Minor. "The more capabilities we can develop and the more data that we can put out there the better for the decision makers to become more confident in this latest technology. This is the first step in integrating additive manufacturing into the U.S. Army."