Boeing is making another significant design change to the Dreamliner to accommodate yet another problem that had not been previously disclosed. Boeing ordered suspension of fuselage production at an Italian subcontractor in June when it became apparent small wrinkles were forming in the composite skin. Spokesperson Lori Gunter tells Design News: “We have designed a fix for the barrels that have already been built-a simple patch that is installed from the outside of the airplane. We are completing a permanent fix to the design that will accommodate the changes in the stringer without needing to install a patch-this basically consists of adding a few layers of composites in key areas of the fuselage.”
As reported in Design News, Boeing engineers are also redesigning the area where the wing mounts to the fuselage. The Dreamliner is already two years behind schedule.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Two teams, one based in the US and one in Europe, have 3D printed space-worthy support structures for satellite antenna arrays. These aren't prototypes: they're fully functioning antenna supports that will operate while exposed to the harsh temperatures and radiation of outer space.
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