Boeing reportedly plans to use the low-cost additively manufactured tool in the company’s new production facility in St Louis, MO. The tool will be used to secure the jet’s composite wing skin for drilling and machining before assembly. Production of the 777X is scheduled to begin in 2017 with first delivery targeted for 2020.
“The existing, more expensive metallic tooling option we currently use typically takes three months to manufacture using conventional techniques,” says Leo Christodoulou, Boeing’s director of structures and materials. “Additively manufactured tools, such as the 777X wing trim tool, will save energy, time, labour, and production cost.”
Boeing isn’t the only large manufacturer to adopt the technology. At the Berlin air show in June, Airbus unveiled a test aircraft made using additive manufacturing to illustrate how its aircraft of the future will be built.
GE is considering 3D printing turbine blades for the Boeing 777X GE9X engines, while Honeywell Aerospace has been investing in additive manufacturing techniques, with 3D printing labs now in the US, China, India, and Europe.