Plastic heat sinks will be getting a huge push on new Boeing aircraft, possibly starting on the Dreamliner. They offer additional opportunities to reduce weight and improve design through net shape injection molding. “This is a coming attraction,” says Dr. Alan G. Miller, director of technology integration on the Dreamliner. “This technology is already in the marketplace, but is just now moving into aircraft. Thermoplastics can become heat sinks through high loadings (30 to 40 percent) of carbon-graphite fiber or ceramics. Suppliers of thermally conductive thermoplastics include LNP Engineering Plastics (GE Plastics), RTP, Cool Plastics, and DuPont On the thermoset side, suppliers include Epoxies, Etc.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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