At the Santa Lucia Military Air Base No. 1, in the State of Mexico, you can hear the burst of planes taking off and landing very close by at the Felipe Angeles International Airport (AIFA). During the Aerospace Fair in Mexico 2023 (FAMEX), there are also some exhibition flights, but the takeoff strips and hangars are transformed into spaces where exhibitors, both national and international, showcase all kinds of aircraft, from F-16 fighter jets as well as different models of helicopters and planes.
This fair began in 2015 to reinforce the development of the aeronautical industry in Mexico, through foreign investment and the promotion of jobs and alliances. In the 2023 edition, which took place from April 26 to 29, experts from the Institute of Advanced Materials for Sustainable Manufacturing at the Tec de Monterrey participated and presented the research work they carry out in this industry through additive manufacturing and the development of new materials.
Tec de Monterrey envisions a new aerospace industry: lighter, stronger, and on-demand ready parts. “With the current stress of the supply chain, aerospace production is sought to be closer to the United States, and that, with the need to reduce emissions, opens an opportunity for Mexico where we have to focus on the development of new materials, and sustainable manufacture technologies,” says Daniel Olvera Trejo, a researcher at the Institute of Advanced Materials and Sustainable Manufacturing.
Additive manufacturing makes it possible to create structures that are difficult or even impossible to manufacture in the traditional processes such as casting, welding, and subtractive processes, applying instead a 3D printing process to manufacture complete ensembles.
Currently, Tec is researching an additive metal manufacturing process where a layer of metallic powder is placed in an inert atmosphere and melted using an electron beam, to repeat the process layer by layer until the part is finished, similar to a thermoplastic deposition.
With Anel Perales Martínez and Oscar Martínez Romero, Olvera Trejo shared his work in additive manufacturing and some of its applications in the industry.
Tec Aerospace Technology
The statistical control company for the manufacturing industry SPC Pro reports that Mexico is among the top 15 countries in the global aerospace industry, with gradual growth in aircraft production.
Faced with this demand, Tec de Monterrey has worked together with various partners in the aerospace industry, such as Honeywell Aerospace, Safran, and GE Aerospace.
In the GE Aeronautics exhibition stand, Tec researchers publicized their work in the sector and their collaboration with GE Additive through technology, products, and services in additive manufacturing.
Tec acquired equipment called M2 Series 5 and MLab 200R from GE Additive, the latter is a machine capable of printing reactive materials such as titanium and aluminum.
“What we are looking for is to link up with universities that develop certain research and have researching groups that have become very good at some technology,” says Andrés Soler, general director at GE Aerospace.
Carlos Scott, marketing leader, and Marc Preud’homme, sales manager, both from GE Additive, point out that this collaboration seeks to solve industry challenges.
Scott believes that the future of additive manufacturing could revolutionize the supply chain of the industry, since when a spare part is required, instead of looking for it in inventory, it could be printed right away.
That is why his colleague Preud’homme stresses that “a physical stock will no longer be necessary, but a digital stock of designs for printing”.
What is the Aerospace Fair?
The Aerospace Fair in Mexico is an event organized by the Ministry of National Defense and the Mexican Air Force. It is held every two years at the Santa Lucía Military Air Base No. 1, in the State of Mexico.
During the fair, guests walk between the hangars. They take photographs of the exhibitions and attend talks and conferences. The last day of the FAMEX fair is the busiest. Thousands of people fill the military base because the closure becomes an air show considered one of the most important globally.
The 2023 edition had the participation of around 700 companies and universities, Tec de Monterrey among them.