When the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded in 2015, the search for the cause turned to the Aerospace Forgings industry. NASA investigations concluded the explosion was caused by the breakage of a 2-foot long steel strut holding helium bottles in place. Further probing revealed SpaceX obtained the strut from a third party supplier and, alarmingly, did not test it. Outsourcing aerospace forging is not uncommon. Bypassing industry specifications, testing, and quality control is. By ensuring the following quality control measures are in place, you can avoid losing heaps of money in product development costs due to undetected defects.
Comply With Industry Forging Standards
When you need high quality aerospace forging work done, outsourcing is a practical option. Forging the high strength alloys used in advanced aerospace applications requires highly specialized and experienced metalworkers. They have experience working with the many advanced alloys (e.g., steel, copper, aluminum, titanium) used in aerospace parts, including novel and high temperature superalloys. With new material compositions continuously tested, defect risk is high. In the worst case, your forged metal part will not be able to support the structural payload of your aerospace design. Industry specifications are developed to mitigate this risk. If they're followed, your parts should support the required structural loads. By only using aerospace forging services that fully comply with industry specifications, you can avoid losing tens of millions of dollars in product development costs.
Model, Test, and Retest
But this is engineering, not a casino. SpaceX took a big gamble, and lost by not testing all its parts. The final product must be tested to ensure it fully complies with industry payload, temperature, cryogenic, and other conditions. Modeling and testing can stress test a forged part under virtual and real life conditions. If the part is defective, mechanical, thermal, and other strenuous stress testing should uncover it. Non-destructive testing, the main quality control procedure used in steel forging, is non-invasive and low in cost. You can gain deep insight into how your material will operate under high stress by using advanced technologies such as infrared thermography.
Make Quality Control Transparent
If material defects are missed by lax testing standards, they should be identified in the quality inspection process. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous contractors have forged approvals on quality control tests to land big parts contracts. When quality control testing is performed, you can avoid loose controls by directly participating in a transparent quality control process,. This way, you can ensure no corners are cut in verifying the reliability and integrity of the product.