Boeing partners with Thermwood on 3D printed tool for 777X
Boeing (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.
Thermwood used a Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine and newly developed Vertical Layer Print (VLP) 3D printing technology to fabricate the tool as a one-piece print, eliminating the additional cost and schedule required for assembly of multiple 3D printed tooling components. In the joint demonstration program, Thermwood printed and trimmed the 12-foot-long R&D tool at its southern Indiana demonstration lab and delivered it to Boeing in August. The tool was printed as a single piece from 20% carbon fiber reinforced ABS using the Vertical Layer Print system. Boeing Research & Technology engineer Michael Matlack believes the 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.
Toolmakers and OEMs are embracing additive manufacturing for customized, rapid tools, masters and jigs.
With patents proliferating and production applications emerging, 3D printing with continuous fiber reinforcement is poised for significant market growth.
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