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.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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.
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