Thought Leadership

White paper: Realizing digital manufacturing and product support in aerospace and defense

By Blake Snodgrass

“If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.”

Orville Wright

So, modern innovation can cause disruption, and aerospace is no stranger to ground-breaking technologies, witnessing zero CO2 electric propulsion systems in airplanes, green solutions in aviation for urban taxis and evolving supersonic flight altering high-speed travel.

Whether it’s launching a new satellite or finding new ways to perform program acquisitions, engineering has its challenges. Therefore, complex products require innovative methods for greater longevity and support.

This complexity drives companies to attain better performance from their products. For example, increased electrification of products requires greener solutions, reliability and improved maintainability. Subsequently, companies are experiencing significant globalization, furthering program complexity and creating pressure on schedules to drive innovation and disruption. 

Complexity drives change though digital transformation

So, there’s a shared experience in this industry of explosive complexity that’s embraced through digital transformation to further innovation. Furthermore, it’s prompting the development of sophisticated products in less time, while improving cost and minimizing risk.

Intelligent manufacturing is accelerating the product and ramp up time, while exceeding quality targets and delivering it more quickly. Subsequently, a closed-loop manufacturing process enables a digital thread, providing a consistent, seamless alignment with the design, to achieve higher quality at a lower cost. Organizations are also virtually commissioning their factories and production lines to create advanced visualization. Hence, the digital thread via the intelligent manufacturing process embodies the full lifecycle of engineering to manufacturing. 

While most products are becoming more sophisticated, companies need to develop processes and technologies to collaborate with structural parts, electrical and mechanical systems, composites and printed circuit boards. Revolutionary organizations must possess the ingenuity to influence all facets of product design data into production. 

The aerospace and defense industry have construction issues affecting quality and production, thus influencing final parts. Additive manufacturing is transforming the design and build process, changing the methodology. Future production includes additive manufacturing for parts and assemblies, making dramatic changes in part design. When starting with a 3D model, additive seamlessly carries it through topology optimization, light-weighting and validation via simulation. 

Challenges met with simulation

It creates parts for the aerospace industry that otherwise would not be possible, held by a traditional machining process’s constraint. But additive manufacturing comes with its challenges, such as changing the process with new solutions and addressing regulatory design and fabrication methods.

Therefore, simulating solutions in designing parts validates the designs and the manufacturing processes provided by the digital twin. So, the goal is to simulate the performance of a part before production. – an enormous value-add.

Learn more in the white paper.

Siemens Digital Industries Software is driving transformation to enable a digital enterprise where engineering, manufacturing and electronics design meet tomorrow. The Xcelerator portfolio helps companies of all sizes create and leverage digital twins that provide organizations with new insights, opportunities and levels of automation to drive innovation.

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Siemens Digital Industries Software – Where today meets tomorrow.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at