Assembly errors-and not metal fatigue-are now being investigated as the possible cause for dangerous fuselage delamination discovered on Boeing 737 jets operated by Southwest Airlines. Six jets with cracks were built in a similar time frame at a former Boeing plant in Wichita, KS.
A 5-foot hole appeared on Southwest Flight 812 on April 1. The original focus was the potential for microcracks that radiated from rivet holes and worsened over time. That scenario was particularly ominous because Boeing expected the aluminum fuselages to remain stable in the roof location much longer.
Investigators are exploring several possible errors during assembly in the 1990s. Focus is on the size and the way rivets and sealants were used to hold aluminum panels together. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation. Possible problems with the planes’ production were first reported by ABC News.
Electromagnetic inspections of an area of the roof called the lap joint are being conducted on other 737s.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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