Metal may have a new entry in the battle for super lightweight aircraft skins. General Electric received a U.S. patent June 17 for a powder metal sheet composition that could compete with plastic composites, such as those used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or new Airbus wide-bodied aircraft. The GE sheet is made from a nickel-base superalloy having more than about 30 percent by volume of gamma prime phase, or an intermetallic such as a titanium aluminide. A GE spokesperson commented to Design News: “We have no plans at this time to introduce this into any product, but it offers GE the interesting option to use this for high temperature sheet material.”
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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