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  • 3D Printed Aircraft: Things to Come

    OK, at under 13 feet it is not full sized, but still...

    http://www.industryweek.com/technolo...da12b25aea44a4
    Paul A.
    SE Texas

    And if you look REAL close at an analog signal,
    You will find that it has discrete steps.

  • #2
    Could that model actually take off and land with those huge propellers?

    Comment


    • #3
      Just an r/c airplane that a few Airbus engineers decided to 3d print, whoopi doo!

      Comment


      • #4
        "Brings reduction in costs"
        How much did the printer cost?
        If you benefit from the Dunning-Kruger Effect you may not even know it ;-)

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        • #5
          'Windowless, weighing in at just 46 pounds and measuring less than 13 feet long'

          Somehow, that seems.. exceptionally heavy for an aircraft.

          "Some 70% of respondents believed that by 2030 aircraft spare parts will be printed directly at airports, and 51% expect that entire planes will by then be manufactured by 3D printing."

          *facepalms* In other news, 70% of respondents had absolutely no engineering background whatsoever and had never stuck two pieces of anything stronger then paper together in their entire lives.

          Unless by 'spare parts' you mean 'the knobs that the passagers use to turn on/off the light/air vents', and other parts so non critical that they could all go missing and nobody would notice for 3 flights.
          Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Black_Moons View Post
            ................

            *facepalms* In other news, 70% of respondents had absolutely no engineering background whatsoever and had never stuck two pieces of anything stronger then paper together in their entire lives.

            .................
            Hey, this here is America, where people are allowed to have strong, passionately held opinions on subjects about which they don't know a damned thing.

            So there!!!

            Steve

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            • #7
              The 3D printing deal is currently at the status of being a "because we can" situation.

              It is not as if it is possible to make suitable actual parts of every type with 3D Printing, not yet. it will probably end up being possible, if not always economically reasonable, and given that some parts need a different sort of processing for any of a huge number of reasons varying from strength and heat treating, to appearance.

              It would be different if the parts are designed to BE printed. But that may mean bulkier parts using more materials, due to material properties. Usually additive and other "near net shape" processes such as casting etc, have the lack of waste material as their big plus point. Makes less sense to have to design-in the waste as a heavier, larger part using more "scarce resources".
              2730

              Keep eye on ball.
              Hashim Khan


              It's just a box of rain, I don't know who put it there.

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              • #8
                If I understand correctly;

                In the US just about any modification or repair to a commercial aircraft has to be done by a FAA certified mechanic using certified parts.

                I don't see where a part that is printed on site will be economically certified, and I don't see any savings in QA / QC since they will have to duplicate the QA processes (and people) that are used in the factory.

                Are they (Boeing and Airbus) currently manufacturing spares for critical parts at airports using CNC machining centers and 3d models from the manufacturer?

                Dan
                At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                Location: SF East Bay.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by danlb View Post
                  If I understand correctly;

                  In the US just about any modification or repair to a commercial aircraft has to be done by a FAA certified mechanic using certified parts.

                  I don't see where a part that is printed on site will be economically certified, and I don't see any savings in QA / QC since they will have to duplicate the QA processes (and people) that are used in the factory.

                  Are they (Boeing and Airbus) currently manufacturing spares for critical parts at airports using CNC machining centers and 3d models from the manufacturer?

                  Dan
                  Hahahah. Pretty much this. As I said it will only be used for parts so non critical that if someone stole them all it would be several flights before someone noticed. Anything more critical then that requires serious certs, and I wouldn't be surprised if they demand the non critical parts have certs just because everything else needs certs.

                  Plus, it takes so long for aircraft manufactures to switch to new processes/designs/etc.

                  Look at how badly boeing got burned switching to lithium ion batteries to understand why :P

                  Only recently have light aircraft even stopped using magneto systems and gone to electronic ignition.
                  "oh but the magneto is somewhat unreliable, so we have DUAL magneto systems, with an A/B/BOTH/OFF switch!"
                  Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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                  • #10
                    Money makes airplanes fly. If more money goes in than comes out, the airplane gets scrapped. The death of any fleet starts with scrapping airplanes for parts to keep the rest flying.


                    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by danlb View Post
                      If I understand correctly;

                      In the US just about any modification or repair to a commercial aircraft has to be done by a FAA certified mechanic using certified parts.

                      I don't see where a part that is printed on site will be economically certified, and I don't see any savings in QA / QC since they will have to duplicate the QA processes (and people) that are used in the factory.

                      One could imagine changes to the regulatory regime where parts are made at the airports, to order. Perhaps if A) the design is certified, B) the input raw material to the 3d-printer is certified, and C) the 3d-printer itself is certified -- all with appropriate seals and periodic inspections to ensure that the seals are unbroken --- then the part might be declared certified. And, since the mechanic is certified, the rules could change allowing the mechanic to certify that the parts are good(enough).

                      Maybe the regulations will change so that, for some semi-critical uses, a part might have a 1 or 2 flight certification --- the plane can be flown in revenue service for 1 or 2 flights to get to a big repair depot (without deadheading) where the temp. part is replaced with a permanent one.

                      Regulations do change, usually slowly, and sometimes they need a bit of external pressure ... but they do change (see The Carterphone Decision in the US).

                      The economic savings would be not having to have a large stock of parts on hand at each airport, just in case or, alternatively, having the plane sit idle for several hours or a day waiting for a spare to be flown in... The same, really, as just-in-time manufacturing.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Aircraft parts, at least the "high confidence" ones, get so much testing and checking to be sure they are free of defects, that the making can seem easy and cheap by comparison. And even then there can be problems, as with that european helicopter, where a gearbox part is failing despite being checked umpty-two times before being installed.

                        Then there is the wide range of materials used, not all of which can be utilized on the same type printer. That may require several printers, and possibly several types of post-printing processing equipment for parts.

                        So, parts could be MADE, but checking them before use would require lots more equipment.

                        And, then, providing the machinery just to make the parts, at every airport, would be high in cost. Probably far higher than the cost of delays. After all, the folks who operate fleets of aircraft have regular flights to places..... the part goes on the next flight in and arrives in reasonable time. It's a reasonably well-known process.
                        2730

                        Keep eye on ball.
                        Hashim Khan


                        It's just a box of rain, I don't know who put it there.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As with all tech, expect the porn industry to make the best of it.

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                          • #14
                            Since this thread seems to be taking on a longer sort of lifespan I thought I'd offer something as a model airplane designer, builder and flier from my rapidly approaching 50th year of the hobby.

                            At 46 lbs there's no "just" about it. That's really up there and likely as blazes resulted in a rather nasty heavy wing loading if the wings are sized comparably to most jets that have long and fat bodies with relatively small wings when compared to many other classes of full size planes over the decades.

                            It's most certainly NOT the world's first 3D printed airplane to fly either. That was done at least two years ago by a home guy and presented in a thread on a model building forum (RC Groups if anyone cares).

                            Until someone learns how to spray long strand carbon out of a printer head or to come up with some other very high strength printable plastics 3D printing will be limited to making the little nonsense things that no one really notices like the switch knobs as joked about already. Only recently have we seen the first metal powder printers that are able to print bonded metal powder parts which then get fused into full strength molded metal parts. And it would require some significant advances to get to where we can print and fuse aluminium.

                            Now what I CAN see is a hybrid machine somewhere down the line that alternately prints down layers of plastic and carbon to build up a high strength part. But that's not the sort of thing I would expect in my home computer room any time before I'm dust and long forgotten.
                            Last edited by BCRider; 06-07-2016, 11:15 AM.
                            Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                            • #15
                              We will go to Mars in a 3D printed spaceship. Metal 3D printing is difficult for three reasons, temperature, atmosphere, gravity. Metals melt at high temperatures, atmosphere degrades them and gravity causes sagging while molten. So the aerospace industry may find a plant in orbit to be the ideal place to 3D print high value metal parts. Look up fiber lasers, not lasers delivered by fiber, fibers that are the lasing material! Already at 80% efficiency for power conversion, and 150KW power levels. They can weld 4" thick steel in one pass. So solar panels driving a fiber laser sintering metal in vacuum and zero gravity sounds like a winner all around to me.

                              So lets build a Mars bound cruise ship. A long stiff truss with a solar panel at one end which is kept aimed at the sun. That gives optimum steady output power and provides permanent shade for the sintering process so the temperature remains constant to prevent warping. A right angle beam revolves around the truss and the print head travels in an out along the beam. The truss is the Z axis. So we can print a large tubular shape with spherical ends ideal for a pressurized vessel. It could be made with double walls and very thin truss elements spacing them out. We can print internal ducts for air, water, fuel, electrical conduits right in place. Tanks for oxygen and fuel. Companion ways running fore and aft and hatches to go them with hinge elements and locking mechanisms. Bulkheads, decks, walls, living compartments all printed right in place. Printed as two sheets spaced by tiny truss wires, extraordinarily stiff and lightweight at the same time.

                              Construction materials might be the rockets that lifted the equipment into orbit in the first place. You spent all that money and fuel getting it into orbit. Seem a shame to toss it back down the gravity well to just burn up. Toss the materials in the solar powered vacuum furnace and extrude it as wire to feed the 3D printer. Aluminum wire, titanium wire, hastelloy wire, whatever, all best done in a vacuum. Grab some of those failed satellites that are going to fall back into the gravity well and be lost and reprocess those materials too. The ship can be really big. Size only matters when you start at the bottom of a gravity well, this ship never lands anywhere. It shuttles people and landers from orbit to orbit. A big ship means a long trip isn't the equivalent of a long sentence in a jail cell. Maybe you spin it to create a sense of light gravity and the floor is actually the outer hull. Ocean liner size, a couple hundred feet in diameter and a thousand feet long. Mass to volume ratio is very low so it won't be that hard to push through space relative to its size. Certainly large enough to carry a current submarine fission reactor that could provide electrical power for life support and ion engines. A low constant thrust gets you all the way there and back in a doable time frame.

                              Plastic printers turn out all the lightweight junk you need to live comfortably. Chairs, table, beds, cabinets, plates, cups, forks, spoons, toilets, even clothes, you name it. Possibly the waste materials that humans generate could be fed to the ion engines to provide mass for propulsion. Maybe the ship leaves for Mars as soon as it has propulsion and navigation equipment in place. Final construction and fitting out takes place by the crew as a way to keep them employed, teach them skills needed on Mars and also keep them from going nuts living in a big old can. With nuclear and large solar power installations lots of things become possible. Maybe you don't boost air and water out of earth's gravity well. You make a short trip to the moon if water can be found there, and boost up from 1/6 G. Electrolysis gives you oxygen and hydrogen in the perfect ratio to power the landing craft that Elon Musk is demonstrating so nicely.

                              Space is big, you got to think big, the sardine can NASA is designing just doesn't cut it!

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