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DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

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Newest Boeing jet rises from spools of thread

Kirby Kilmurray, an operator of the robotic tape-laying machines, pays close attention to how carbon-fiber tape has been laid to make the surface of a 787 tailfin skin. Every so often the operator must reach across and tear off excess pieces of tape the machine leaves behind when it makes a particularly intricate cut.