Few government-backed entities have innovated upon 3D printing technology as much as the Tennessee-based Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which is the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) largest national laboratory program. Over the last year, ORNL has helped further develop additive manufacturing on both the large-scale and nanoscale. The lab recently developed a simulation guided process to enhance 3D printing at the nanoscale. Meanwhile, back in October 2015, ORNL signed a patent licensing agreement enabling the company Strangpresse to utilize the lab’s large-scale 3D printing technology.
Needless to say, the lab has contributed both top-notch research and viable solutions to the 3D printing industry, and one of them has just earned them a newly presented Guinness Book of World Records title. ORNL recently collaborated with the aerospace company Boeing to 3D print a trim tool used for manufacturing the Boeing 777X passenger jet. Not only did additive manufacturing the tool help reduce costs and production time for Boeing, it also looks to be the largest solid 3D printed item ever. Today, Monday the 29th, an official Guinness World Records judge measured and awarded ORNL and Boeing with the title for the largest single 3D printed part.
According to the ORNL media advisory, the lower-cost trim tool was printed in carbon fiber and ABS thermoplastic composite materials in just 30 hours. The 3D printed part is 17.5 feet long, 5.5 feet wide, and 1.5 feet tall, and is essentially comparable in length to a large sport utility vehicle. The 3D printed trim tool weights a whopping 1,650 pounds, and exceeds the minimum size of 10.6 cubic feet that was required to achieve the Guinness title. The trim-and-drill tool was printed within ORNL’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility using the Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM), an extremely large-scale 3D printing system developed by ORNL and Cincinnati Inc. The feat also gained recognition on Reddit after a user named “lovelj919” posted a picture of the 3D printed tool on r/3DPrinting.
“The existing, more expensive metallic tooling option we currently use comes from a supplier and typically takes three months to manufacture using conventional techniques,” said Leo Christodoulou, Boeing’s Director of Structures and Materials. “Additively manufactured tools, such as the 777X wing trim tool, will save energy, time, labor and production cost and are part of our overall strategy to apply 3D printing technology in key production areas.”
To celebrate the Guinness World Records achievement, ORNL hosted an invitation-only ceremony this morning at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility. Those present at the measurement and award ceremony included ORNL’s Bill Peter, Vlastimil Kunc, and Brian Post; and Boeing’s Mike Matlack; as well as Guinness World Records judge Michael Empric. Once ORNL completes verification testing, Boeing plans to use the 3D printed trim-and-drill tool in their new production facility in St. Louis, and will also provide ORNL with information on the tool’s performance. The tool will be used to secure the 777X’s composite wing skin for drilling and machining before assembly. The production of passenger jet is scheduled to begin in 2017, while Boeing’s first delivery is targeted for 2020.
“The recognition by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS draws attention to the advances we’re making in large-scale additive manufacturing composites research,” said Vlastimil Kunc, leader of ORNL’s polymer materials development team. “Using 3D printing, we could design the tool with less material and without compromising its function.”
Although this 3D printed trim tool appears to be the largest solid 3D printed item ever, there seems to be a few qualifiers that make it so. For instance, it seems that the record will only apply to production parts, and will not include 3D printed concrete projects that are believed to be larger in terms of print size. Regardless, the 3D printed trim tool is certainly an accomplishment for both ORNL and Boeing. But, as 3D printing technology continues to expand at an exponential rate, it’s safe to assume that this Guinness World Records title will be beaten as our 3D printing capabilities get bigger and better over time. Discuss further in the ORNL & Boeing 3D Print Jet forum over at 3DPB.com.[Source/Images: Oak Ridge Today / Reddit]