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.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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