Rethia B. Williams today was awarded the Industry Achievement Award at Rapid 2010 for her work in developing laser-sintered parts for the Boeing Dreamliner 787. The Dreamliner is best known for its groundbreaking use of carbon composites in 50 per cent of its structure, including the fuselage and the wings. It has not been well known that the aircraft also breaks new ground in widespread use of parts created by the direct digital manufacturing process. The 787 features more than 30 air ducts manufactured by laser sintering using specially developed FR-106 flame-retardant nylon from Advanced Laser Materials of Belton, TX.
Advanced Laser Material’s FR-106 is a polyamide composite engineered for fire retardancy while maintaining superior mechanical properties, specifically high toughness and impact resistance. FR-106 parts can be manufactured to thicknesses as low as 0.030-inch, without compromising fire retardancy and toughness. This allows thinner and lower weight parts, an important goal throughout the Dreamliner.
Established in 2008 by SME’s Rapid Technologies & Additive Manufacturing Community, the RTAM/SME Industry Achievement Award recognizes an individual, team or company for outstanding accomplishments that have had a significant impact within the additive manufacturing industry or in any/all industries through the application of additive manufacturing technologies. Award winners are selected by evaluating the scope and scale of benefits realized, and the potential future impact.
Williams is the first female recipient of the RTAM award. She was also the first woman to be named engineer of the year at Rockwell, where she worked on direct digital manufacturing technologies before joining Boeing.
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.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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