Design issues on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner get almost as much scrutiny as Tiger Woods pulling out of his driveway. The latest issue is the status of the much-discussed fix to the midsection of the composite fuselage.
Some composite material surrounding bolt holes delaminated during recent tests, but the issue isn’t expected to slow the first test flight of the Dreamliner. The delamination occurred in areas around metal plugs that are installed after exposure to liquid nitrogen. The bolts expand as they thaw.
A Boeing spokesperson said: “The freeze plug process is a standard repair we perform on both metallic and composite structure. We have extensive experience using these techniques. We have not seen any issues with these repairs that are inconsistent with our experience or the capability of these repair techniques.”
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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