A Discussion with Michael Perschke, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, L3Harris Technology

by | Aug 11, 2020 | Interviews

Michael spent the first 15 years of his career in the aerospace industry with experience from hardware design to engine assembly to additive manufacturing. He is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati, is married with 2 children and loves the outdoors. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, cycling, hiking, cooking, construction, and woodworking. 

Michael, tell us about your career experience in Aerospace

I am a Senior Manufacturing Engineer working with L3Harris Technologies developing new fuzes and ordnances for the US military.  Prior to L3Harris, I worked at GE Aviation where I held multiple roles in the development of engine assembly, instrumentation and lastly Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Development.  My additive role at GE Aviation was challenging as we developed flight quality hardware; I was the hardware owner for 3 different large structural life limited components.  I spent 3.5 years maturing those parts from concept to actual shipping flight quality hardware.

You’re highly experienced in metal AM. What are you most impressed with when it comes to the technology?

What impresses me the most with AM is the fact that I could turn metal “flour” into an extremely strong engine component.  Those components combine multiple pieces that are stronger and lighter than the same conventionally manufactured assembly. Development and product integration is faster than a cast or sheet metal method.  The ability to “grow” pressurized oil, scavenge and vent passages in a single part provides versatility in manufacturing.  It also creates a mindset of building 1 part rather than an assembly of multiple parts with multiple opportunities of failure.

Heat exchanger weight and pressure-drop characteristics have a significant impact on performance; metal AM enables lightweight structures and thin-walled geometry. Credit: Velo3D

What do you find most exciting about metal AM?

What I found to be most exciting throughout my experience with AM is the geometric complexity that can be successfully built.  Realistically, just about anything that you can model you can build.  Examples can range from complex heat exchangers and fuel nozzles to simple parts that can be retrofitted onto an aircraft that has been out of production for decades.  Not to be cliché, but the possibilities are endless.

What needs to happen for most manufacturers to consider metal AM for quality-assured production?

 To make AM more successful, I think that the cost needs to be reduced for variables such as post-processing and powder; in addition, I think that inspection technologies need to mature and be more reliable.

Parts entering a vacuum furnace. Credit: Industrial Heating

Elaborating on inspection technologies – anything can be built, but the ability to inspect internal geometries and qualify them within a tight tolerance interval is incredibly difficult.  The components that were my responsibility, were made of INCONEL® and with the thickness in certain areas I could only get a resolution of +- .030 on the CT scans.  This created a significant problem in areas where wall thicknesses were only .030” from the start.  If the industry can develop new inspection methods and understand how to bring the costs down, AM can revolutionize the manufacturing and production world as we know it.

About the Author

Amir Iliaifar

Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Amir Iliaifar is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Velo3D where he oversees the production and distribution of Velo3D’s digital content marketing initiatives. Prior to joining the company, Amir worked for a leading professional drone manufacturer, several SaaS companies, and as a tech journalist.