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Boeing files patent for artificial 3D printed ice blocks used for next-gen flight testing – 3ders.org (blog)

by • April 17, 2016 • No Comments

Apr 18, 2016 | By Alec

As regular readers doubtlessly understand, Boeing is no stranger to 3D printing. Just a few months ago, the aviation giant in fact filed a patent for a levitating 3D printing system that is in theory ideal for airplane parts. But Boeing’s engineers are unquestionably considering of additional than just 3D printed metal engine components or plastic cabin interiors. In a new patent application, Boeing proposes a astonishing 3D printing solution that may manufacture planes a lot safer: 3D printed artificial ice shapes that can be utilized to simulate icy flying conditions. Not just may they manufacture aircraft certification systemes additional detailed and stricter, these 3D printed ice shapes are in addition far additional cost-effective than existing versions.
If you’ve at any time been out for a walk on a winter morning, you can have seen the grass covered by attractive ice crystals. These are turn it intod when supercooled water droplets touch a solid surface. A delight to see when you have both feet on the ground, but a real hazard for airplanes at any timeywhere. As a plane’s aerodynamic shape is crucial for a safe flight, a worthwhile build-up of these ice crystals on the wings or the tail of a plane can seriously increase the accident of a disastrous crash.
That’s why the international authorities that provide aircraft certification stipulate that all new aircraft creations need to be tested in ‘understandn icing conditions’, through a ‘Flight Into Known Icing’ or FIKI. “Such certification test flights may need that the aircraft be flown with artificial ice shapes attached to wing and/or tail major edges,” Boeing writes in its latest patent application. “Dry air flight tests with artificial ice shapes installed allows for airplane performance and handling characteristics to be evaluated in stable dry air conditions and with the significant ice shape remaining constant.”

These artificial ice shapes must, of course, mimic the properties and roughness of actual ice. Today, these shapes are usually turn it intod right on the wing via fiberglass and resin materials, and are attached with bolts or other fasteners. The versions themselves are based on actual ice buildup, as measured in a supercooled wind tunnel. A brave pilot finally takes the adjusted airplane into the skies to test precisely how the plane performs when burdened by this unpleasant load.
But this testing system is, Boeing argues, hampered by drawbacks. For starters, it’s costly, really time-consuming and can in fact injure the aircraft in question. But additional importantly, the testing method is really imprecise and cannot be easily adjusted for different types of icy conditions, producing it not easy to test a wide range of variables. 3D printing, howat any time, does not suffer of these problems. That is the core message sent by Boeing innovators Cris Bosetti, Fred Krueger, Ian Gunter and Dean Walters, who authored this new patent application (number US2016076968).


In a nutshell, they are calling for a new certification system involving 3D printed shapes that mimic ice build-up and are worthwhilely additional cost-effective. These artificial ice shapes, they write in the detailed patent, can be turn it intod of 3D printed plastic, composite materials and in fact metal. In what they envision can be a really streamlined production system, engineers can rely on a library of different types of ice-like shapes that have been turn it intod to adhere to airfoil surfaces with double-sized adhesive, pretty than bolts. Not just may this turn it into a firmer hold, but it in addition assures that the wings are left uninjured after the test flight. What’s additional, engineers can easily switch different types of ice versions around really quickly.
The 3D printed ice shapes (that are thus not in fact turn it intod of ice) can in addition be really varied. Engineers can in fact just assign different types of properties to a CAD file, such as density, rigidity and texture, and 3D print the final version. The ice shapes can in fact, they write, be turn it intod up around existing blocks to save time and showcase turn it intod-in identification codes to additional streamline the testing system. All this can theoretically donate the testing engineers a lot additional control over the simulated circumstances, and allow them to test at any timey possible icy condition. In turn, this can allow them to manufacture the certification system far additional rigid and detailed, that ultimately manufactures planes so much safer. And who does not want that?

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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