Oak Ridge has developed a 3-D-printed version of a “trim and drill” tool that is used by airplane builder Boeing to make wings on its passenger aircraft. The tool is the size of an SUV and weighs 1,650 pounds while measuring 17.5 feet long, 5.5 feet wide and 1.4 feet tall.
The lab says using 3-D printing makes the final product cheaper and quicker to manufacture and works just as well as the conventional metal version. The tool could be valuable to Boeing, as it will save energy, time and money when the company begins the production of its 777X passenger jet in St. Louis beginning in 2017.
The job took 30 hours to print using carbon fiber and composite plastic materials. Oak Ridge says not only does 3-D printing offer huge energy savings, but also it allows for the acceleration of innovation by making final products quicker and cheaper to build.
In addition to this tool, Oak Ridge is experimenting with 3-D-printed molds for wind turbine blades, which could reduce manufacturing time for turbine blades and make it easier to test new designs.
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