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.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
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