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.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
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