The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is charged with applying science and engineering for the U.S. Department Of Energy. That work includes transportation research, and as of last month, making the biggest-ever 3-D printed thing.
This device you’re watching come together in this video is officially the world’s largest 3-D printed object: “a large-scale trim tool for a Boeing 777X.”
It will hold the jet’s composite wing skin while it’s drilled and machined before it actually goes on the airplane. Sexy, right?
The Boeing 777 is still under development, slated to start flying in 2020. It will be the largest two-engined airliner with an an immense 235 foot-plus wingspan. Two variants are planned, one with a slightly higher passenger capacity (425 people) and one with a slightly longer range (8,700 nautical miles.)
The BAAM made the tool by spraying layer upon layer of a “thermoplastic pellet” made of 80 percent ABS plastic and 20 percent carbon fiber.
The final product was 1,650 pounds, 17.5 feet long, 5.5 feet wide, and 1.5 feet tall according to the ORNL’s press release. That made it big enough to beat the Guinness World Record of “largest 3-D printed object” which stood at a volume of 10.6 cubic feet.
The ORNL says this manufacturing method cuts down on time, cost, errors and energy requirements to build things. The bigger those things get, the bigger the potential savings are.
We’re not quite ready to print a whole plane, but the laboratory is planning to keep pushing this particular application in long-term testing. Boeing is scheduled to start building the 777X in 2017, and will reportedly be working with the ORNL to fine-tune this and possibly other 3-D printed assets during the project.
Hat tip to mhadden!