3D printing has been around for quite sometime now. It has evolved over time from smaller simpler objects to much larger, more complex objects. A new 3D tool used for trimming and drilling aircraft was 3D printed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). It wasn’t ORNL’s first feat in incredible 3D printing as it has previously unveiled a replica of 1965 Shelby Cobra – 3D printed, of course.
The trim and drill tool however, is the world’s largest solid 3D item ever printed and is certified by Guinness World Records!
The new item has dimensions of (17.5 x 5.5 x 1.5) ft and is about 748 kg in weight. Made up of ABS thermoplastic composites and carbon fibers, the item had to be one solid substance of 10.6 cubic ft which was verified by the judges from Guinness World Records.
“The recognition by Guinness World Records draws attention to the advances we’re making in large-scale additive manufacturing composites research,” says Vlastimil Kunc, member of the ORNL team. “Using 3D printing, we could design the tool with less material and without compromising its function.”
Obviously the tool wasn’t printed merely for the making a world record, it can be used practically as well. It takes just 30 hours to print and is cost-effective considering the actual metal one take about 90 days to manufacture. Boeing’s Director Leo Christodoulou commented that 3D printing technology has numerous applications in key production areas and equipment like the 777X wing trim and drill tool will save labor, energy, time and cost of production.
Christodoulou also informed that the 3D printed tool will be used at Boeing’s St. Louis factory and will help maintain the wings of 777X airliners, set out to begin production in 2017. How well the tool performs in the Boeing factory, still remains to be seen as 3D printing is one thing and its functionality is quite another. Nevertheless, it is still the world’s largest 3D printed item!