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Boeing proposes 3D printing “ice” for aircraft certification

by • April 17, 2016 • No Comments

In another future aerospace application for 3D printing, Boeing has filed an application with the US Patent Office for a way to manufacture artificial “ice.” The company isn’t planning on producing novelty ice cubes for the initially class passengers (yet), but has come up with a way of printing plastic and composite shapes that can be tacked onto the wings and other surfaces to simulate icing conditions. According to Boeing, this can assist to streamline and reduce the cost of the aircraft certification system.

If you’ve at any time been out on a clear winter morning, you may have seen the trees and grass covered with a glittering display of ice crystals. These are generated when supercooled water droplets touch a solid surface and suddenly crystallize. On a meadow, this system is charming and begs for a decent camera. On aircraft, it is actually a deadly hazard as the ice turn it intos up into mounds on the major edges of the wings, degrades the aerodynamics of the plane, and increases the risk of a fatal stall.

Because of this, the US FAA and other national and international aeronautical bodies need that all new aircraft be certified to operate safely in ice conditions. This is done by bringing the candidate aircraft and placing it within a supercooled wind tunnel, where the plane’s surfaces are allowed to turn it into up masses of ice. These are and so meacertaind and regenerated in glassfiber and resin, that is roughened to the same texture as ice, and and so mechanically attached to the aircraft. With these artificial ice shapes, as they are called, bolted on, a pilot and so takes the plane up to show that it can yet function under this unpleasant load.

Boeing says that this system has a excellent most drawbacks. It’s slow, costly, imprecise, will not allow for control of significant variables, and can injure a quite expensive aircraft. The company’s answer is to commence 3D printing into the testing to turn it into artificial ice shapes out of resins and other materials that are tailored to the specific airplane and to answer specific inquiries.

According to the patent application, the production of the artificial ice begins with a desktop version of the aircraft. The shapes are created to fit exactly onto the airfoil surfaces, where they are attached to the major edges of the wings, stabilizers, and rudder via a double-sided adhesive instead of bolts. This not just turn it intos a firmer hold, but disrupting the adhesive lets the shapes come away easily after the tests are accomplished.

The ice shapes themselves are created in a desktop, assigned different types of properties, such as density and texture, and so created up in the CAD files in a series of layers to create a difficult interior structure that mimics actual icing conditions. These can be replicated at can of the files, so there’s a much excellenter degree of control. The ice shape can be of a desired thickness, rigidity, or whatat any time else is needed to assess the aircraft’s faculty to cope with different types of conditions.

Boeing says that the shapes can actually be printed with identification codes and markers to manufacture certain they’re put in the right place and line up properly. The entire system is based on a high-level flowchart created to reduce the fabrication to digital files that can be plugged into any number of 3D printing methods via plastics, metals, composites, or other materials as the medium, either by additive printing, milling, or a combination of the two to turn it into the final shape.

Source: US Patent Office via Aeropatent

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