I agree, this is a case where R&D for military and space apps is potentially extendable to other areas, such as industrial and commercial aircraft uses. One of the most critical factors in that extension is expanding manufacturing capacity and tailoring it to the needs of high-volume production, which is a very different animal from the production of smaller quantities for military use.
Hopefully the legwork and advances pioneered in the A&D and government sector can translate back to other industry segments. Cross-pollination of research and technology is the key to making some of these new composite innovations more mainstream.
Ann, these are really interesting advances in composite materials. They are driven, of course, by the aerospace and defense industries. There are lots of other industries where these materials could be really useful, but they are generally conservative in their engineering.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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