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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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