Joining the various parts of the XB-1 demonstrator aircraft requires numerous holes to be drilled in the airframe structure. Drilling them individually can be extremely time consuming due to the time required to properly locate each hole. The power-feed drilling process also requires fixturing to support the drilling tool and establish the correct angle of each hole. Drill guides offered a practical solution, but conventional metal guides would have presented high costs and excessive lead times.
Boom engineers 3D printed multi-hole drill guides for accurately locating fastener holes over larger areas of the aircraft’s structure. The drill guides were printed on the Fortus 450mc™ and F900™ printers using FDM® Nylon 12CF carbon fiber and ULTEM™ 9085 resin materials. These strong, rigid thermoplastics provide sufficient strength and stiffness to support the power-feed drilling tools while offering the precision needed for accurate hole location.