Lab breaks Guinness record for largest solid 3-D printed item

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility set a Guinness World Record Monday for the largest solid 3-D printed item.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory held a ceremony at the facility, in which Guinness adjudicator Michael Empric confirmed measurements of a 3-D printed tool that the Boeing Co. will use to help form the wing tips of its new 777X airliner. The part, which was produced with the facility's Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine, was 17.5 feet long, 5.5 feet wide, 1.5 feet thick and weighed 1,650 pounds.

Assisted by ORNL staff member Brittany Cramer, Empric took measurements of the object to see if it surpassed a previous record of 10.6 cubic feet for a 3-D printed item. He stepped to the lectern and after a few suspenseful remarks, announced the results.

"You have reached the measurement of 82.4 cubic feet, which is a new Guinness World Record Title. Congratulations," Empric said.

Thom Mason, ORNL director, noted this was the second Guinness World Record achievement for ORNL, which also secured a Guinness record in 2007 for the unprecedented bursts of neutrons achieved during testing of the Spallation Neutron Source.

"These two world record achievements demonstrate, really, the scope, scale and range of activities at ORNL, from fundamental science to discovering innovations in clean energy and global security," Mason said.

Leo Christodoulou, director of Structures and Materials, Enterprise Operations & Technology, said the drill-and-trim tool ORNL produced for Boeing is a great improvement over existing technology.

"By comparison, this tool, if made the traditional way, would take three months to build. It was built in 30 hours. Just think about that," he said.

Christodoulou said 3-D printing offers great potential for bringing things to the market more quickly, efficiently and with greater energy savings than before. Normally, the drill-and-trim tool would be made of metal at a much greater cost, he said.

Bill Peter, director of the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, touted the speed and efficiency of the equipment there.

"It prints out materials at about three orders of magnitude faster than other systems," he said. "We are at the area of about 1,000 cubic inches per hour, which really shows how we can change 3-D printing."

Developing the drill-and-trim tool was a collaborative effort between ORNL, Boeing and other local companies, said. Techmer PM, of Clinton, produced the plastic beads used in the additive printing process and Knoxville-based Tru-Design developed the coating applied to the part.

Boeing will use the trim-and-drill tool with equipment to hold the composite skin of a 777X wing tip in place as it is drilled and machined.

ORNL's Manufacturing Demonstration Facility is meant to speed adoption of new manufacturing technologies to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, lower production costs and create new products and opportunities for high-paying jobs.

USA TODAY


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