Next time you’re in an airplane, think about what the airplane is made out of. Because someday, that airplane is going to be made of parts from a 3D printer. GE is working on making the parts based on the work of the EADS lab in the U.K. They’re supposedly up to the task, and they’ll help airlines save money, too. From MIT’s Technology Review: “researchers demonstrated that they can print out several different metal parts for airplanes with a technology that uses a laser to heat metal powders until they form solid metal shapes. Using this technique, EADS has printed metal hinges for engine covers: the hinges allow the covers to swing open for engine maintenance. The parts have intricate shapes that maintain strength while cutting the weight of the part in half. The new hinge has been put through the tests used for conventional parts and shown to meet performance requirements. Weight savings are critical in the aerospace industry. According to EADS, reducing the weight of an airplane by just one kilogram can result in fuel savings of $3,000 per year, or $100,000 over 30 years–the typical life of an airplane.”
GE is working on printing ultrasound parts, too.
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