06 November 2012

fly away - printed plane

Ever spent hours & hours building a model plane? Painstakingly cuting & glueing? ever thoguht of just printing one out and going for it? Two student engineers have done just that.
And, okay, I'd better confess that I'm not the model plane kinda gal, but printing one out - that sounds pretty cool... and not quite a simple as I've made out.

Two University of Virginia engineering students got to build an unmanned aerial vehicle, using 3-D printing technology. "In other words, a plastic plane, to be designed, fabricated, built and test-flown between May and August. A real-world engineering challenge, and part of a Department of the Army project to study the feasibility of using such planes."

So not just printing out, but designing as well. Of course once they've designed it, (and it's working), there's nothing to stop anyone else, say the military, from prinitng them out and just going for it.

The unmanned aerial vehicle, "dressed" in U.Va.'s colors. The plane was built entirely from parts from a 3-D printer.

This whole 3D printing idea is rather sci-fi when you think back ot hte good old dot matrix. All those years ago, while pulling those horrible little hole strips off the side of sheets of papaer, I never would have guessed that one day printes would be playing in 3D.

"Three-dimensional printing is, as the name implies, the production or “printing” of actual objects, such as parts for a small airplane, by using a machine that traces out layers of melted plastic in specific shapes until it builds up a piece exactly according to the size and dimensions specified in a computer-aided drawing produced by an engineer."

All so simple, and if you break it - just print a new one :)

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