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.
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.
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.
Two new technologies from Stratasys, created in partnership with Boeing, Ford, and Siemens, will bring accurate, repeatable manufacturing of very large thermoplastic end products, and much bigger composite parts, onto the factory floor for industries including automotive and aerospace.
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.
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