The U.S. Navy program to improve the reliability and seaworthiness of its Hovercrafts is moving forward. As first reported by Design News, Navy engineers are changing the technology used to attach the rubber-pleated skirts that contain high-pressure air that moves the craft above water. Newly developed fasteners can be replaced with regular tools, speeding replacement of damaged skirts. The new TineLok system has one or more tines that work in conjunction with longitudinal bolt thread channels to prevent counter rotation and loosening. The skirt manufacturer, Avon Rubber, has sent a purchase order for the first Navy Hovercraft replacement program. Orders to cover the rest of the fleet are expected to begin in May. There are 100 skirts on each Hovercraft and maintenance costs will be cut 25 to 30 percent. The first fasteners are all stainless: the nut, the tine and bolt. Tests are also being conducted on plastic versions that cut weight by 75 percent. Nuts and bolts are made from PEEK and the tine is made from glass-reinforced nylon. Rod is being machined for the sample run. The Army is looking at the technology for some of its weapons systems. It may also have applications for fastening of lighting in various applications.
Listen to a podcast on the new Hovercraft fastening technology.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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