WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Over the past few weeks, Wichita State’s National Institute of Aviation Research has added three new technologies to help its pursuit toward innovating aviation.
“It’s insane knowing that essentially all of the equipment we have here we can build everything except the engine on a 747 and roll out of here with one,” said Carlton Hall, WSU junior.
The first new addition, a fully integrated thermoplastic welding system.
“The process is consistent and repeatable,” explained Dr. Waruna Seneviratne, NIAR’s Automated Technologies Laboratory for Aerospace Systems director. “The nice thing about this robot is you can have multiples with one robot. We can program the robot to grab any one of these tools for whatever reason.”
They also added a $600,000 Mikrosam slitter. Dr. Seneviratne says it will make up for its price tag by saving NIAR hundreds of thousands of dollars in materials over the coming years.
“Typically, we have to send it out for slitting which takes a lot of money and also takes quite a bit of time,” he explained. “Using this slitting equipment, we can get our material ready for our automated fiber placement machines right away.”
Last but not least, the largest university owned autoclave in the world.
“This is basically like a pressure cooker,” Dr. Seneviratne added. “When we manufacture composites, we have to apply high pressure and high temperature in order to cure it.”
For students at WSU, they can feel how unique this facility is in the aviation field.
“The ATLAS program encompasses different kinds of machines, programs, and it’s been a really great experience to kind of see that exposure and hopefully apply it and make myself more hireable,” said Ethan McDaniel, WSU graduate student.