From the start, the Boom team knew 3D
printing was going to play a crucial role in the
development of XB-1, and ultimately for Overture.
Mike Jagemann, Director of XB-1 production,
had previous experience with 3D printing and
brought in two Stratasys 3D printers – an F370™
and Fortus 450mc™— right away to help with
prototyping. Boom later added a Stratasys F900™
3D printer to expand beyond prototyping to
include the additive manufacturing of tooling and
production parts, and the company has since 3D
printed hundreds of parts and prototypes.
One of 3D printing’s biggest benefits is time
savings, and the company estimates it has saved
hundreds of hours thanks to the technology. Boom
uses 3D-printed parts to check for proper fit and
alignment, saving valuable engineering time.
3D printing, we’ve been able to obtain parts very
quickly and determine that they’re either going
to work or that we need to make changes,” says
Jagemann. “Rather than spend eight hours in CAD
trying to check space constraints, the engineer can
continue working on other things. When the part
is printed, they can check the fit.”
these parts using traditional methods would be
more expensive and too slow.
Being able to print parts like hydraulic line clamps
that will fly on the XB-1 is another critical time
saver. The advantage is the ability to optimize the
engineering workflow, leaving these components to
the very end of the design process because they
can quickly be printed in-house. “That shortens
the supply chain on certain components that are a
good fit for 3D printing,” adds Jagemann.
The biggest savings so far, both in cost and
time, has been the ability to make custom drill
blocks to accurately locate the many fastener
holes that pepper the XB-1’s airframe. Initially,
Boom developed tooling that relies on metrology
to position one hole at time. As the assembly
progressed, however, it became clear that this
approach was taking too much time. Instead, the
team pivoted and 3D printed more drill blocks,
each incorporating multiple holes. That allowed
them to use metrology to accurately position
twenty or more holes instead of just one at a time.
“Being able to locate a drill block with a large
volume of holes has been a huge manufacturing
time saver for us,” says Jagemann.
One surprise with 3D printing Jagemann wasn’t
expecting involved how it helps make Boom’s
engineers more efficient, which in turn helps the
team move faster. “3D printing parts helps make
the physical connection between what the engineer
sees in CAD and how the part actually turns out,”
Jagemann says. “If you don’t have a 3D printer to
close that loop, you’ll use machined components
instead, and that’s more expensive.”