When will Airbus shift to an all-composite fuselage? Could it still happen for the A350? Those are burning questions as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner continues to sell at a torrid pace. According to the Wall Street Journal, Boeing’s order book for the Dreamliner is moving past 600, while Airbus has less than 148 “less-firm” orders for the A350. The 787 has many advantages: it’s more fuel efficient, easier to maintain and more comfortable than A350. Airbus has been tweaking the design in an effort to catch up. A new variant, dubbed the A350XWB, will have a composite main fuselage skin on an Al/Al-Li frame. Even that could change, however, to an all-composite fuselage. Each shift pushes back the effective service dates for the flagging A350. The Dreamliner probably will have at least a five-year head start.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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