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.
Engineers at Fuel Cell Energy have found a way to take advantage of a side reaction, unique to their carbonate fuel cell that has nothing to do with energy production, as a potential, cost-effective solution to capturing carbon from fossil fuel power plants.
To get to a trillion sensors in the IoT that we all look forward to, there are many challenges to commercialization that still remain, including interoperability, the lack of standards, and the issue of security, to name a few.
This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.