Boeing engineers are in the process of replacing the wiring design used for the Dreamliners. It’s not a fix-it’s part of a plan to optimize weight and configuration of wiring bundles starting with plane number seven. The first six planes had flight test wiring that will be replaced as part of an overall refurbishing.As part of the overall materials revolution that the Dreamliner represents, some lightweight aluminum wiring will be used instead of copper. “We use both,” says Boeing spokesperson Lori Gunter, “There are different design considerations. We select the material that is appropriate for the intended use.”
Gunter did not provide specifics, but the design rules for aluminum and copper used as wiring are the following:
Aluminum is 50 percent lighter than copper and can save weight in the aircraft.
Copper bends more easily than aluminum.
Corrosion is a significant concern for aluminum wiring. Airbus engineers developed a special protection for aluminum wiring. There are also new specifications for connections.
NIST's new five-year strategic plan for its Material Measurement Laboratory lists additive manufacturing materials development as one of the main areas it will support by developing measurements, data, techniques, and models.
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