We've written about this before, but I'm not sure everyone's seen the video. It's a really impressive production process. No doubt heavier than foam and possibly balsa, but that will improve over time with new materials.
Well that's inspiring! I'd love to see a book outlining some of these complex design ideas using new production platforms.. anyone interested? :)
This process is for prototyping. I can guarantee that the expense of "printing" these planes will be 10-100X more than a simple injection molded foam plane....and the injection molding can create every bit as complex a wing shape as their laser printer.
So while this is a good idea for designing the plane, this will be absurdly expensive to produce. Figure a few seconds per plane to injection mold....and a few hours per plane to print. It's a no-brainer....that said, the computer can do a better job simulating the flight characteristics using the actual material they should be making the plane from....instead of the laser's required foam. So as near as I can tell, they have not managed to do anything other than "gee whiz" with this development. The only people who will be able to afford a plane made this way will be governments.
Reducing the cost of making eliptical wings? Really? Seems to my GWS and Parkzone have been doing a pretty fine job for a long time...and charging me less than $100 after countless markups from middle men.... Do you think they can make a wing for $100? My guess is $1,000. Material cost: $8. Machine time: $992.
This also seems absurd as the plane is not simply lifted from the magical pool as a finished plane. The plane will be packed full of unhardened powder...so how do you get that material out of a closed wing?
Here's a very boring video on the topic
Paul I think you're missing quite a bit of what’s going on here. (Apples and oranges as they say.)
Form CAD file to working aircraft with 3D printing take only a few hours to do the same with injection molding can take weeks if not months. There are molds that need to be designed and made; transportation cost and a lot more before and after you eject foam anywhere. Sure what your talking about is better at mass production but making masses of identical aircraft that are okay at doing a wide range of jobs is not the point of this video. It’s about making small numbers of aircraft perfectly design for there flight envelope and payload on demand anywhere at anytime.
You also not going to use foam for larger aircraft like this because it’s not strong enough unless you cover it. At which point the 3d printed wing will be stronger, lighter, faster to make and more true to shape. With 3d printing you can also add internal structures into the wing or body without compromising structural integrity or added build time. more so when you start talking about full size aircraft.
Really impressive, I agree with what Mathew is saying. You can't compare a desktop inkjet to a newspaper printing press. To be able to design (and test/simulate!!) a highly complex CAD model then have it be created to exacting tolerances without a human having to touch it is very powerful .
But why use that stupid launcher. Why not just hand launch it? That would have been far less risky, that launcher is just additional complexity that could (almost did) go wrong. Perhaps they wanted the aircraft destroyed so they could show how quickly they could make another one.
Mathew, you might be right if you're just making one, or just making 5....but if you're making 50, then it would be far cheaper to produce them in a mold. Also, I wonder what their application is where they need extra strong wings? Are they going to be doing 200MPH with this plane or diving down from the stratophere to a target on the ground? Highly doubtful.
Watching that takeoff I'm shocked the thing even flew. It looks tail heavy and they've decided on a wing design that has only been successful on a few planes in history? The Spitfire and it's predecessors? The funniest part was when he said it performed just as the designers had expected....really? So they designed it to be wobbly and tail heavy?
I totally agree with this being used for prototyping or very, very, very low quantity production runs, but after that, this is not useful. And even then, they don't really need a physical model for prototyping. Computer simulations will tell them far more about how the plane will fly than a physical plane made out of the wrong material.
Cool, yes, useful, no. Who is their target market? Great Planes? Hobby King? The US or British military? A UAV manufacturer? Every single one of those groups will be producing more than 5 of one model design. The only place I could see this being used would be in the college/univeristy system....where a senior design project or team entering the Outback Challenge has a need for 5 planes and a few revisions....
the take off was could have been the failing of the catapult instead of the aircraft right? lol even a jet fighter will do the same if they put to little power into the steam catapult.
if they need a stronger wing then they can change the internal structure to give more strength where they need it and/or less strength where they don't. But this is still an early 3D printer that uses one material to print in later versions already in the works they will be able to print in many different materials. At that point if they need a stronger wing they could still change the structure as well as composition.
Wing ribs stronger then today’s but half the weight because they’re made with pours 3D structures like the bones of a bird that can't be made anyother way. Composites where one side is pure steel, on the other pure ceramic and in the middle can be any combination or alloy you can imagine but is down right impossible with out 3D printers. And while you may laugh at things like the elliptical wing and geodesic construction which hasn’t been used scene WWII. But these design principles are known to work better then anything in use today they’re just too hard and time consuming to do by hand.
I do mean by hand because most Jet fighter, passenger aircraft and even personal aircrafts are still largely hand crafted and take years to make. Pieces made in different location using expensive specialty tools one at a time by works. Then these pieces have to be transported sometime half way around the world to be put together by hand.
It’s a slow expensive process and that’s why their “target market” is the large scale aircraft industry both civilian and military.
large scale 3D printed Aircraft will be made stronger, faster, cheaper while at the same time using less martial used in the construction process then they could ever dream of being made today. which is why I believe it's Airbus that is already working on 3D printer to make full size wing to one of their larger aircraft.
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