Recently Boeing and Thermwood Corporation collaborated to employ additive manufacturing technology to develop large, single-piece 3D printed tool for the 777x program. Through this project, the partners aim to demonstrate how additive manufacturing can produce production quality tooling for the aerospace industry. The Thermwood team used its Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) 3D printer to create the single piece 3D printed tool.
Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM)
Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) is based on exciting new technology developed in an entirely new direction. Instead of printing with a small bead in a heated environment, Thermwood uses a large bead, printed at room temperature in an essentially “continuous cooling” process. The beads are large enough, with enough heat energy, to completely fuse with the previous layer.
LSAM is intended for industrial production. It is not a lab, evaluation or demonstration machine, but is instead a full-fledged industrial additive manufacturing system intended for the production of large-scale components.
Thermwood has already applied for 19 separate patents on various aspects of this new technology.
3D Printed Tool
Large Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) 3D printer powdered by newly developed Vertical Layer Print (VLP) technology was used to fabricate the large tool. The focus was to print a single-piece large-scale tool to eliminate the process of assembling multiple smaller 3D printed components to form a single large tool. The team printed a huge long R&D tool and delivered it to Boeing for its application.
The massive 12-foot long tool was printed as a single-piece. It took nearly 43 hours to print the tool with additional trimming stage amounting to 40 hours. The tool was printed in a 20% carbon-fiber reinforced ABS material and it consumed approximately 700 kilograms of material.
Boeing Research & Technology engineer Michael Matlack said, “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.”
About Thermwood Corporation: Indiana-based Thermwood Corporation operates in the capital good sector focusing on manufacturing technology. The company develops, manufactures and distributes technology-based products and software for manufacturing as well as provide formal technology training. Thermwood is an international company that markets its products and services through offices in 11 countries.
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