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MM: 3D Printed Titanium; Hydrophobic Material

In this Manufacturing Minute episode, Boeing considers 3D printed titanium parts for its Dreamliner and a hydrophobic material.

Boeing 3D Prints Titanium Parts

Modern industry continues to expand and find uses for 3D printing in manufacturing. The latest in 3D printing news concerns Boeing which has announced plans to start using 3D-printed titanium parts in the 787 Dreamliner jet. 

Boeing has partnered with Norwegian company Norsk Titanium—the company building and supplying the first 3D-printed structural components approved for use by the Federal Aviation Authority. Boeing estimates that by using the printed titanium parts, they could save up to $3 million in construction costs per plane built. Since the company produces approximately 144 planes per year, they stand to save up to $432 million annually. 

While the parts are made by laying down layers of metal, built up additively, for a finished, single part, technically, the process is more like welding layers of metal dust. The end result components are robust because they involve fewer separated parts than traditionally-machined components, cheaper because they're built in one go and can be made to be more complex since they can be constructed from the inside out.

Later this year, Norsk expects to get approval for its entire manufacturing process in order to produce even more commercial airplane parts for Boeing and other firms. 


Will this open the floodgates for 3D printed parts in manufacturing? Do you think manufacturers could increase cost savings by incorporating more 3D printed parts? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

Hydrophobic Technology

A recent discovery by researchers could be a game changer in hydrophobic technology. 

The new material, developed at the University of Michigan, is a combination of fluorinated polyurethane elastomer and a specialized water-repellent molecule called “F-POSS”. The mixture can be easily sprayed onto just about any surface.

What makes this different from other hydrophobic materials is its ultra-durability and self-healing nature. When molecules of the coating are scraped away, other molecules migrate to fill in the gaps. Researchers say the coating has the ability to restore water resistance hundreds of times when damaged.

In tests, the material was abraded, scratched, burned, plasma-cleaned, flattened, sonicated and chemically attacked. After each assault, the material self-healed and continued being water resistant.

Researchers say the new hydrophobic technology could be used to lower the resistance of ship hulls thus reducing fuel consumption. 

Company HygraTek, with the help of the University, plans to bring the material to market with spray-on coatings a water-repellent fabrics possibly available by the end of the year.


In what ways do you see this hydrophobic technology being used in a manufacturing environment? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

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