An aluminum alloy designated 7085 developed by Alcoa is getting a foothold in tough aircraft and military applications.
The first application of 7085 was for large die forgings on the Airbus A380 wing spars. Higher zinc along with reduced copper and magnesium content give the aluminum alloy excellent strength and high fracture toughness. It’s used in the Boeing Dreamliner for wing spars and engine pylons. It’s also being evaluated for thick structural parts, such as blast shields, on military vehicles.
Engineers shifted from titanium to 7085 for large forgings that form the center section of the bulkhead of the multinational Joint Strike Fighter’s F-35B variant for the US Marines and Royal Navy. Reason: To save weight. Titanium is 60 percent more dense than the aluminum alloy.
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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