Boeing and Thermwood
The Boeing Co. (Chicago, IL, US) and Thermwood Corp. (Dale, IN, US) have employed additive manufacturing technology to produce a large, single-piece tool for the 777X program. In the joint demonstration program, Thermwood used its Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine and newly developed vertical-layer print (VLP) 3D printing technology to fabricate the 12-ft-long R&D tool as a one-piece print, using 20% carbon fiber-reinforced ABS polymer, and eliminating the additional cost and schedule required for assembly of multiple 3D-printed tooling components. Thermwood printed and trimmed the tool at its Indiana demonstration lab and delivered it to Boeing in August 2018. Boeing Research & Technology engineer Michael Matlack says use of Thermwood’s additive manufacturing technology in this application provided a significant advantage, saving weeks of time and enabling delivery of the tool before traditional tooling could be fabricated.
Boeing purchased a Thermwood LSAM machine with the VLP functionality for the Interiors Responsibility Center (IRC) facility in Everett, WA, US. The companies hope the ability to quickly produce large-scale tooling for real-world production represents a significant step in moving additive technology from the laboratory to the aerospace factory floor.
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