A long-form tool created using AM technology

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Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., a collaborative effort between Techmer PM and Thermwood Corporation, It has created what is believed to be the largest tool for long-form 3D printing. At 6.5 feet wide and 15 feet long, the tool project has expanded the capabilities of add-on technology in a variety of directions.

It was determined that a polycarbonate filled with carbon fiber would provide sufficient strength to withstand the forces used in the stretching process. However, unlike traditional lubrication methods, Techmer PM mixed a new polycarbonate formulation that contained an internal lubricant in addition to carbon fiber, eliminating the need for additional lubrication.

The tool was printed using Thermwood Corporation’s LSAM 1020 double gantry printing and cutting system. Although this machine is equipped with vertical layer printing, it could print on one piece of tool, as each printed layer must wait until the printed layer has cooled sufficiently, it would need a continuous printing time of 58 hours to produce. one-piece tool. Instead, they decided to print the part in four sections, with a total printing time of 29 hours and 20 minutes at a time – halving the printing time. Printing these four parts required 3,613 pounds of Techmer PM polycarbonate material.

Then the four pieces had to be machined and assembled. Then all the surfaces of the parts, except the front work surface, were machined in place. The holes in the middle of each side are for the center of gravity supports used to handle the parts in the assembly.

The matching faces were then machined flat, except for the slightly raised heads, which ensured a suitable gap for adhesive. Adhesive is just one part of a multi-part approach to bonding surfaces with high-precision durability and safety.

In addition to the adhesive, the drawing holes and grooves were machined on the back of the tooling parts, which allowed the parts to be joined together. Alignment holes and lawyer holes were machined in the middle sections of the tool.

The 6-inch alignment pins for these holes were machined with adhesive channels, in addition to the alignment between the parts, as well as providing an additional level of permanent adhesion.

In the next phase of the attachment, supports were used, close to the front surface located inside the structure, which were connected by tensioned steel cables to the aircraft – which held the front surface of the four parts of the high-extension instrument well.

The parts were then assembled. Each part is quite heavy, and due to the relatively short adhesive time, there was a limited amount of time to apply the adhesive during assembly and to secure the parts securely. The pieces had to be pushed together while they were aligned within a few millennia of an inch, and they had to be completely paired. This was fairly straightforward using Thermwood Corporation’s LSAM machine using a vertical layer printing table mechanism.

The pieces were then carefully placed by hand. After this, one part was attached to the table of the machine and the other to the mechanism that moves the table vertically. The vertical table moved the parts about 20 inches. The adhesive was applied, and the mechanism of the vertical table pushed the pieces together again, square and perfectly aligned.

While this is only the first step, and additional testing and further data collection is needed, it demonstrates that 3D printed composite shaped tools can be produced using materials and equipment currently available.

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