Assembly issues continue to slow delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is now almost three years behind schedule. Workers at Italian subcontractor Alenia apparently incorrectly installed fasteners where the horizontal stabilizer attaches to the fuselage on some aircraft. Boeing employees in Seattle are now correcting the problem.
“This is not a design issue or a flight-test finding,” says Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. “This is a straightforward workmanship issue with the installation of a couple of shims and some associated fasteners.”
One wonders if it really was worth outsourcing all the fabrication for this project. Is the Italian subcontractor being backcharged for the repair work? How many more defects will be allowed from a subcontractor before finding a new source for that particular assembly?
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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