While I'v got an affection for plastics, I think it does have its limitations. There will need to be a lot more empirical testing of plastic in airplane body parts before the general public will be ready to fly in a plastic plane.
Alcoa calls this product a "third-generation" aluminum-lithium alloy. The "second-generation" aluminum-lithium alloys have been around since at least the 1980s. They are used fairly extensively in space applications, with the best-known being the Space Shuttle external tank. They are also used in military aerospace applications (for example, the MiG-29M airframe). However, they are less widely used in commercial applications. I think the biggest reasons are cost and unfamiliarity. Another issue is anisotropy of properties, although this is an issue with composites as well. Alcoa claims to have addressed this with the new generation of alloys: http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/innovation/papers_patents/pdf/LMT2007_110.pdf
Wow. Looking at the link to the information about these alloys, it makes you wonder why their use isn't more widespread: lower density; higher tensile strengths; higher elastic modulus. Where've these alloys been up to now?
The company says it anticipates high-definition video for home security and other uses will be the next mature technology integrated into the IoT domain, hence the introduction of its MatrixCam devkit.
Siemens and Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering to address limitations in the current additive manufacturing design-to-production chain in an applied research project as part of the federally backed America Makes program.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
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