Boeing and Thermwood corporation have collaborated to adopt additive manufacturing technology to produce a large, single-piece tool for the 777X program, which demonstrates that additive manufacturing is ready to produce production quality tooling for the aerospace industry.
Thermwood, in order to fabricate the tool as a one-piece print, eliminating the additional cost and schedule required for assembly of multiple 3D printed tooling components, has used a Large-Scale Additive Manufacturing (LSAM) machine and newly developed Vertical Layer Print (VLP) 3D printing technology. As part of the joint demonstration program, Thermwood delivered the 12-foot-long R&D tool to Boeing in August 2018, printed and trimmed at its southern Indiana demonstration lab.
Michael Matlack, Research & Technology engineer, Boeing, commented, “The use of Thermwood’s additive manufacturing technology in this application provided a significant advantage, saving weeks of time and enabling fabrication and delivery of the tool before traditional tooling.”
A single piece tool, made from 20% carbon fiber reinforced ABS, was printed using the Vertical Layer Print system. Boeing purchased a Thermwood LSAM machine for its Interiors Responsibility Center (IRC) facility in Everett, Washington, which is equipped with the VLP functionality. The collaboration between Boeing and Thermwood provided the machine with the ability to quickly produce large-scale tooling. The results of the joint effort of the two companies indicate a significant step in promoting additive technology from the laboratory to the factory floor.
Thermwood corporation, an international company located in Dale, Indiana, operates in the capital good sector focusing on manufacturing technology. Thermwood develops, manufactures and distributes technology-based products and software for manufacturing as well as provide formal technology training.