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PROTOTYPING TOOLS SHAVE TIME FROM DESIGN PROCESS, BOEING SAYS

 PROTOTYPING TOOLS SHAVE TIME FROM DESIGN PROCESS, BOEING SAYS
 SEATTLE, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released today by Boeing Defense & Space Group:
 Engineers helping to restore an old B-17 Flying Fortress bomber discover surface cracks in a tail wheel component of the plane. Hoping to gain insight into the component's structural sturdiness, they take the wheel over to Boeing Defense & Space Group's industrial computed tomography (ICT) system at Plant II for examination.
 Engineers scan the inside of the component to see whether those cracks threaten its structural integrity, much as a doctor with a medical scanner can look inside the human body for biological abnormalities.
 The scans reveal that the extent of the defects are not a cause for concern to the engineers for the tail wheel's intended use. But during this process, a side benefit has been gained, one that offers engineers time savings and an opportunity for a more precise design.
 Without its original blueprints, the 50-year-old part can only be replicated through a painstaking series of steps: measuring, sketching and, possibly, modifying the original design and comparing. But by combining the technology capabilities of computed tomography, a computer aided design (CAD) workstation and a process called stereolithography, engineers now can bypass those costly and time- consuming steps.
 By acquiring and defining every shape, curve and dimension through the ICT scan system, digital models of the component can be constructed. Using a new prototyping process called stereolithography, the digital models can be converted quickly into scaled-down plastic replicas to verify designs. Engineers say that this approach is quicker and less expensive than cutting full-size, metal mockups of the parts.
 "What we can do with ICT is look inside a part and see its configuration, detect defects and anomalies, then evaluate the part," said Dick Bossi, Computed Tomography Applications Demonstration (CTAD) program manager.
 "But we also can take our digital ICT data and transfer it to CAD work stations. From our data, drawings can be built for the entire part, with the correct shape and dimensions as they actually appear."
 For the B-17 tail wheel examination, the CTAD program used the ICT data to create a CAD model. "The ICT data saved me significant effort in drawing the wheel and made a very accurate model," said CAD engineer Bruce Craig.
 "The guess work was eliminated. On more complicated parts, the time-saving benefits of ICT would be even greater."
 This geometry acquisition technology demonstration has proven to be a schedule saver for the customers who have turned to the CTAD organization at Defense & Space Group. Some projects, which would have taken weeks to complete, took days or even hours to finish, engineers say.
 Engineers working with old components that have outlived their original drawings aren't the only beneficiaries of this technology. Bossi said new parts that have been shaped ergonomically, or by hand, often are excellent candidates to be measured by the ICT.
 Once the CAD model of the item is developed, the data can be sent to a stereolithography laboratory. This rapid prototype technology builds three-dimensional plastic models of the part from the CAD data set. An example of the B-17 tail wheel was constructed in half-scale to verify the CAD/CAM model.
 "What we develop (with ICT technology) is a very accurate, three- dimensional description of the part," Bossi said.
 The CTAD organization continues to demonstrate the technology within the company, Bossi added, on a number of parts -- aluminum castings, composites and mechanical systems.
 Bossi acknowledges that the ICT data acquisition advances are "evolutionary, not revolutionary," and that other companies are beginning to use the technology in similar fashion.
 But he said Boeing is "right at the forefront. More and more people are using engineering work stations, so it has a particularly special appeal."
 -0- 5/27/92
 NOTE TO EDITORS: Photos available on request
 /CONTACT: Bob Smith of Boeing Defense & Space Group, 206-773-2816/
 (BA) CO: Boeing Defense & Space Group ST: Washington IN: ARO SU:


LM -- SE010 -- 4447 05/27/92 17:15 EDT
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Date:May 27, 1992
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