Saturday, July 30, 2011

World's First Flight of a Fully 3D Printed Airplane



About three weeks ago, I featured two amazing videos of "3D Printers" on this CD post.  There's another amazing video above of the world's first flight of a fully "3D printed airplane."  Here's a report from Gizmag:

"One of the biggest selling features for 3D printers is the fact that you can just whip up a design using CAD software on your computer, then create a physical copy of it to try out - no special factory tooling required. Well, in order to illustrate the potential of the technology for the aviation industry, engineers from the University of Southampton have just designed and flown the world's first "printed" aircraft. The entire structure of the unmanned air vehicle (UAV) was created using an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, which builds up plastic or metal parts through a successive layering technique.

The plane is named SULSA, for Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft. Once printed, the various parts of its body could simply be snapped together in a matter of minutes, without the use of tools. The resulting electric aircraft has a two-meter wingspan, an autopilot, and a top speed of almost 100 mph. In cruise mode, it is said to be almost silent.

According to the Southampton researchers, it would normally take months to go from an initial aircraft concept to a flying prototype - using the laser sintering process, it could instead just take days. Because no production tooling is required, it also costs nothing to make changes to the finished aircraft's design, or to experiment with swapping in different parts."

9 Comments:

At 7/30/2011 3:28 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Well I'm seriously impressed at the potential being shown here with this airplane model...

 
At 7/30/2011 5:23 PM, Blogger bix1951 said...

STAR TREK here we come!
we will be ready for the singularity
with this type of equipment.

 
At 7/30/2011 7:40 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

3D printing has been around for a while, there is a company in Los Angeles that could build a model by shooting lasers into a poll of resin. It built up layers too.

The Big Q is will this technology evolve to allow short-run commercial production?

If so, we may see production swing closer to consumer. Or maybe not.

 
At 7/30/2011 10:56 PM, Blogger Evergreen Libertarian said...

Printed houses http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2009-06/print-out-your-next-building

 
At 7/31/2011 7:25 AM, Blogger J Storrs Hall said...

It's important to note that they only printed structural parts, not motors or electronics. This wouldn't need to be said in the technical community but the general reader might get the wrong impression from the wording.

 
At 7/31/2011 11:56 AM, Blogger NormanB said...

This type of technology which is made possible by the 60% per year growth in chip efficiency will bring us back to the old days of the 'Garage Inventor'. The number of new products will be exploding.

 
At 8/01/2011 8:20 AM, Blogger Eric H said...

"...it also costs nothing to make changes to the finished aircraft's design, or to experiment with swapping in different parts."

Now that's real news. They figured out a way to "print" a free lunch.

 
At 8/01/2011 9:02 PM, Blogger Mark Holder said...

Maybe Boeing could use it to design planes. They sure could use some help.

 
At 8/02/2011 7:22 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

They did not print the autopilot.

 

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