3D printing technology has been around for about 25 years now, Large-scale companies like GE are using 3D printers for ultra sound applications, Pratt and Whitney for compressor blades and Honeywell for heat exchangers. These companies are taking this very seriously. They can see in terms of producing very strong and lightweight parts, additive manufacturing is the best solution.
What about Boeing? In May 2012, Boeing unveiled its experiment of applying new 3D technology on the 747 line in its Everett plant. According to WSJ, Boeing is using 3D printing to make 300 parts for its aircraft, including ducts that carry cool air to electronic equipment. "Some of these ducts have complicated shapes and formerly had to be assembled from numerous pieces, boosting labor costs."
When the dishwasher in a Boeing cafeteria in St. Louis broke down recently, the team there simply replicated the part using 3D modeling software and printed it out. It took only 30 minutes.
For years, Boeing has conducted extensive research and development on additive manufacturing to produce parts. Already, more than 20,000 parts have been installed on military aircraft by Boeing. 3D printing technology could help to reduced inventory, labor and maintenance work.
Boeing ImDev system engineer Jake Irwin lifts a
3-D model from the printer at the St. Louis site.
3-D models created by a 3-D printer at the Boeing Phantom Works site in St. Louis, Mo.
(Images credit: Boeing)
Teams across the Boeing enterprise are using 3-D printing in a plethora of ways, including fit check models, shop aids, tool mock-ups and visualization models.
"3D printing allows us to model data analysis in an innovative way. Being able to see different levels of stress on a part can be very helpfully for our employees and customers," said Dan Seal, Immersive Development program manager.
"We've already seen 3D printing be used in a multitude of innovative ways all across Boeing," noted Seal. "We want everyone to be aware of the technology approach us if there is another application we haven't thought of yet. We want to leverage this technology to help teams
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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