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?
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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