Two years ago, Boeing was in the news because fastener supplies were causing production problems for the new Dreamliner 787 aircraft.
Today, the news is much brighter for the Dreamliner and its fastener supply. Aerospace fastener manufacturer Saturn Fasteners, an operation of Acument Global Technologies, announced it has received a 2009 Boeing Performance Excellence Award. Saturn Fasteners has provided Boeing with custom assembly products for its aircraft programs since its founding in 1989. The company’s statement did not specify particular Boeing programs, such as the Dreamliner.
Another interesting assembly development comes from Greene, Tweed & Co., which makes net shape thermoplastic carbon-reinforced brackets for aircraft applications. The brackets cut weight up to 80 percent compared to the steel or aluminum brackets they replace. It is not clear which programs the new composite brackets will be used on, but the Dreamliner would certainly seem to be a candidate. Boeing is looking for ways to cut weight on the Dreamliner, which at last unoffical report was 8 percent above design weight. The extra weight results in part from extra strengthening required to solve potential delamination problems. The problem takes cash out of Boeing’s pocket because the promised range of the 787 is cut by 10-15 percent. Boeing officials have said they are taking steps to reduce weight, but no specifics have been released yet. Potentially hundreds of the brackets could be used on a single aircraft. Greene, Tweed installed one ProFusion press last year, and is installing two more this year.
The new composites manufacturing innovation center is intended to be a source of grand challenges for industry, like the kind that got us to the moon under JFK. These aren't the words its new CEO Craig Blue used, but that's the idea and the vision behind the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
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.
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