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a computer steers two finely focussed, powerful laser beams at a polymer or metal powder
July 23, 2006 6:22 PM   Subscribe

A plane you can print. via bldblog, which has a lot more context and speculation.
posted by signal (17 comments total)

 
You read it here first: by the end of the 21st century the ink jet printer will be spoken of in the same manner that the wheel, the printing press, and the aeroplane are today.
posted by little miss manners at 6:26 PM on July 23, 2006


The polecat is built by the skunkworks.

Clever little stinkers, aren't they?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:30 PM on July 23, 2006


I love bldgblog.
posted by blacklite at 6:35 PM on July 23, 2006


But the most compelling part of that post wasn't the 3d-printed plane—I guess it's kind of sad that 3D printing is already acceptable normal reality to me already, it'd be nice if I was more lastingly amazed by new things—but this:
"cells seem to survive the printing process well. When layers of chicken heart cells were printed they quickly begin behaving as they would in a real organ. 'After 19 hours or so, the whole structure starts to beat in a synchronous manner.'"
posted by blacklite at 6:38 PM on July 23, 2006


blacklite: me too, it's one of the few blogs I follow. Most of my FPPs are from it, too.
posted by signal at 6:38 PM on July 23, 2006


It's going to be so easy and cost effective to bomb the Third World automatically.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2006


Blacklite: When layers of chicken heart cells were printed they quickly begin behaving as they would in a real organ.

And then

Meatbomb: It's going to be so easy and cost effective to bomb the Third World automatically.

Eponysterical?
posted by Richard Daly at 6:57 PM on July 23, 2006


"Rapid prototyping" is rapidly becoming a poor way of describing this kind of fabrication.
posted by grobstein at 7:45 PM on July 23, 2006


This was actually on Scientific American Frontiers three years ago. Still crazycool. Another thing we'll be able to tell our grandkids about the old days: "tools, these fantastic hand-held devices we used to fabricate things, instead of pulling them out of a microwave."
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 7:50 PM on July 23, 2006


Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
posted by stenseng at 7:55 PM on July 23, 2006


This was actually on Scientific American Frontiers three years ago.

Another version of the same story was in Wired last September. And yes, (to coin a phrase) crazycool. If I was going to print me a plane, though, next I would have to print a pilot to get me around safely.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:11 PM on July 23, 2006


So, if you can 3D-print in two or more different 'colours', then you can integrate all of the electrical wiring right into the airframe! You just print it in the conductive 'colour'.

I bet you could do the same with the control surface actuators. Just print coils into the flaps/rudder, and the wing/tail. I wonder how much actuator authority you could have that way..
posted by Chuckles at 10:13 PM on July 23, 2006


You read it here first: by the end of the 21st century the ink jet printer will be spoken of in the same manner that the wheel, the printing press, and the aeroplane are today.

Well, this was done with a laser printer.

The whole point is to cut costs, but I don't think this is really a good cost cutting mesure. The whole thing would be much cheaper if it were simply mass produced via a conventional system.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 PM on July 23, 2006


Could you build a machine that can print out machines that can print out planes?
posted by Ritchie at 11:38 PM on July 23, 2006


delmoi: I think the nice thing about flexible manufacturing facilities like this is that (once they're established) you don't need to mass-produce something for it to be cheap.
posted by wilberforce at 1:34 AM on July 24, 2006


The whole point is to cut costs, but I don't think this is really a good cost cutting measure. The whole thing would be much cheaper if it were simply mass produced via a conventional system.

They are talking about small production runs, (at least until they start using them domestically). One thing that is different is the ability to fabricate items that can't be manufactured any other way. When they can "change colors" to create multi-material structures, this will really get interesting.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:08 AM on July 24, 2006


FWIW, in architecture people like F. Gehry or A. Liebeskind are using digital fabrication techniques to build custom made projects with hundreds of thousands of unique components for the same money and schedule as if they used off-the-shelf parts. I can easily see how a plane, which has millions of unique parts, can benefit from this kind of approach.
posted by signal at 2:51 PM on July 24, 2006


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