Demand for new aircraft is growing at a higher rate than previously predicted, Airbus announced as it began work on the first carbon composite barrel for the A350 XWB fuselage in Spain. Almost 26,000 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at $3.2 trillion will be needed between 2010 and 2029, to satisfy demand according to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast.
Demand for very large passenger and freighter aircraft like the A380, represents 18 percent of the dollar value at $570 billion. Airbus has 573 firm orders for the A350, which is projected to enter service in late 2014. Demand is being driven in part for customers pushing for more fuel-efficient aircraft, a major selling point of the composite-bodied aircraft.
Airbus had originally planned to use new aluminum-lithium alloys in the fuselage of the A350, but shifted to carbon composite after the early marketing success of the Boeing Dreamliner 787. The Airbus barrel now under construction is 5.5 meters long and will fit at the rear of the aircraft.
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.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Two teams, one based in the US and one in Europe, have 3D printed space-worthy support structures for satellite antenna arrays. These aren't prototypes: they're fully functioning antenna supports that will operate while exposed to the harsh temperatures and radiation of outer space.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.