Ivan: Given that you worked at Boeing and obviously know far more about the use of this kind of technology and the complexities involved in aircraft wing development, I'm going to defer to you on this one.
So perhaps it is a bit far-fetched at this point, but projects like this are becoming more commonplace. My point was that efforts like the SULSA and the Urbee (and the many others we've reported on and will report on) all play a key role in advancing additive manufacturing technology so it can be used at commercially at some point on this kind of scale. As for the advantages, the research team cited the ability to more cost-effectively produce hard-to-manufacture shapes and structures and reduced reliance on expensive tooling. I guess the bottom line is we'll have to wait and see.
I am not so sure I can agree with your comment about it being "not so far fetched". From what I know of modern commercial aircraft wings, they are very complex mechanical constructions that are highly stressed. I have watched video of a "test to failure" when I worked at Boeing on a new wing for one of the big airliners. The wing is displaced with an array of cables while stress gauges take measurements. The failure is rather dramatic even in a controlled environment.
I am impressed with the progress being made in additive manufacturing and it will definitely have a place in producing production parts and assemblies. However a modern commercial aircraft wing requires structural loads that would seem to be inconsistent with the nylon materials mentioned in the article.
What would be the advantages to be obtained in using this manufacturing technique in a production setting? I can see speed and perhaps cost, maybe consistency in shape and strength? Corrosion resistance and maintainability might be a factor as well.
It just seems like the best application for this technology is going to be in lightly loaded applications. If that is true then carefully selecting the applications for the manufacturing process would be required as I am sure they are doing right now.
It is a very interesting project nonetheless and one to watch.
We looked at a number of sources to determine this year's greenest cars, from KBB to automotive trade magazines to environmental organizations. These 14 cars emerged as being great at either stretching fuel or reducing carbon footprint.
Healthcare might seem to be an unlikely target application for the Internet of Things technology, but recent developments show small ways that big-data is going to make an impact on patient care moving into the future.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is