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back to article World first: UK boffins print out working 3D aeroplane

A team from the University of Southampton has produced the world's first fully "printed" airworthy plane – a 1.5-metre-wingspan UAV created in just five days by selective laser sintering (SLS). According to New Scientist, the £5000 Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft (Sulsa) was an attempt to see just how fast you …

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Terminator

Robots making robots?

Machines making machines.. that's always a good idea

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Drones and Workers .... Ignorant Elite Feather Nest Bed Makers

"Robots making robots? ... Machines making machines.. that's always a good idea" .... Dropper Posted Thursday 28th July 2011 14:32 GMT

Haha. LOL ..... What could possibly go wrong, Dropper? :-)

Your lives belong to US ....... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmBymKXgrV4&feature=related

It does have one wondering why, whenever it is so easy to program minds to accept what is shown on television and digital media and shared in text as news and current views, the reality currently presented is not consciously altered to create a new world in which all difficulties are removed and life is as a dream, rather than continuing to pimp and pump and produce the nightmare scenarios and bad news and dodgy views, that must be deliberately, perversely designed to ensure that humanity struggles to exist in a world, which can be so easily digitally altered and remastered to provide infinite bounty. And that must be akin to real evil.

Methinks the lunatics are running that particular asylum, and know not what they should be doing. Time for a pleasant radical change. What say y'all? It just so happens that I happen to know a man who knows some men and women who can provide all that is needed for pleasant radical changes.

Maybe you would also know of more?

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Big Brother

good news or bad?

"It does have one wondering why, whenever it is so easy to program minds to accept what is shown on television and digital media and shared in text as news and current views, the reality currently presented is not consciously altered to create a new world in which all difficulties are removed and life is as a dream, rather than continuing to pimp and pump and produce the nightmare scenarios and bad news and dodgy views, that must be deliberately, perversely designed to ensure that humanity struggles to exist in a world, which can be so easily digitally altered and remastered to provide infinite bounty. And that must be akin to real evil."

Or, as may be more explainable, the (manufactured) bad news keeps coming in order to scare us into fearing every shadow, and welcoming more and more draconian control in the name of "safety".

That might just be my paranoia talking though ;)

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Pint

RE: amanfromMars 1

ok, who the hell spiked my cola? I'm actually starting to understand him!

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question

I've never understood one thing about these 3D printers. If they print layer-by-layer by depositing powder and then melting it, how do they deal with shapes where the upper layer is larger than the lower layer?

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good machines

build up a supporting structure from a different material which is easily chemical dissolved away leaving the now self supporting proper structure complete

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I guess the leave the unsintered powder around to support the layer above.

Otherwise this would only be good for making pyramids and bricks.

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Linux

Limitations

At their current level they struggle with these types of things. You have to take it into consideration when desinging.

That or you do them seperatly and glue them together

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

The entire "basin" is filled layer by layes but only bits of it is melted. If an upper layer is larger than the lower layer the upper layer simply rests on the unmelted powder below.

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Coat

They could...

print it upside down. I know, not always possible.

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I've seen this king of thing before, and it's all about the powder...

You sinter the lower layer, then put the next layer of powder down, sinter again etc.

Once the design is complete, the powder is vacuumed off the surfaces and out of the hollow spaces. Since you're not packing the powder down, it is still easily done.

:-)

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WTF?

question answered

Remember that the object is effectively encased in a tub of powder so any shape you are to make is supported until you remove it from the machine.

I work with this gear and it still makes me grin like a cheshire cat every time I see it :)

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Ru
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Boffin

You can see the immediate post-print state

which looks like a big block of snow. It is quite solid.

Each layer of power is rolled on to the print providing a fairly solid foundation for all subsequent layers. The design could be arbitrarily complex, so long as holes are left to get the unsintered powder out of hollow components.

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Boffin

Re: Robots making robots?

Hasn't nature been doing just that for over a billion years? Seemed like a good idea at the time.

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awesome!

being into RC flight, this is fantastic. it proves that with a 3D printer the world is your oyster!

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Sintering..

..sounds like something you don't want your Mum to catch you doing

Before this proto-replicator (the Star Trek kind, that is!) takes off in a big way, why not take the time to rename it 'The Zoltron' or 'The Constructificator' or something more impressive?

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'The Constructificator'

+1 for 'The Constructificator'!

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Naming convention

You clearly do not watch the correct educational TV....any constructed machine which can be in any way be used for evil must be an -inator as in terminator or disintevaporate-inator or moonaway-inator and be destroyed by your nemesis just as it is about to prove maniacally brilliant (see any episode of Phineas and Ferb for more details)

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I fucking love science and engineering me!

That's all I have.

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Headmaster

Fully printed?

Even the prop, motor and RC gear?

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Pint

No....

... you can print all the rigid components in plastic (including the prop) and glue / bolt them together with all the non-printable stuff, bit like a Super CAD Airfix kit.

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@Filippo

The lower layers of powder (or resin) stay in place. When you're done, you just pull out the printed shape. Hopefully the unused powder then gets recycled for next time.

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@Graham

It is. Generally it's sieved to ensure no impurities from the previous sintering run remain, then returned to be used again.

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tas
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Love the combination of technologies in this

"laser sintering", "no fastners", "geodesic airframe", "elliptical wing", Autopilot-maker of Sky Circuits standing by watching the test (intention is clear - can I slap an autopilot on it, puleeeease, oh pretty please?).

Now this feels 21st century technology. Awesome stuff!

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@tas

According to Sky Circuit's website, he already did.

http://www.skycircuits.com/news

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Boffin

Geodesic airframe

Pity Barnes Wallis isn't around anymore to see this

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Happy

Now you can too !

Yes, you too can build whacky 3D objects in the comfort of your own home.

http://www.reprapcentral.com/vmchk.html

We've come along way since Blue Peter introduced to the wonders of bog roll and sticky-backed plastic!

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Coat

Even sweeter

The Candyfab 4000, prints out 3d objects... made of pure cane sugar!

http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/candyfab

(I'm kind of surprised El Reg has never mentioned this one!)

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Trollface

Kids today

..the advantage of SLS is that it can be used to mould complex shapes which have previously proved hard to manufacture....pays homage both to the Wellington bomber's geodetic structure and Spitfire's elegant elliptical wing.

Yes, because those planes were so complex that they took years to design and build. Oh wait, I'm typing this in English - Could it be that CAD and manufacturing techniques aren't as good as the Old Ways? As another example, BAE, who took 10 years to tweak the Comet wing for the Nimrod?

Anonymous, as I might need a job at BAE again

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Happy

AC@ 17:27

"Could it be that CAD and manufacturing techniques aren't as good as the Old Ways?"

No. "The old ways" or "coach building"included shimming bits that were borderline into place and regular use of the rubber headed mallet. It's called "panel beating" for a reason.

It's also why the tolerance buildup on each aircraft made *probably* up to 1970's varies widely.

CAD systems expect straight lines to *be* straight and curved lines to be *exactly* curved. They work.

It seems BAe did not realise this on the Nimrod MR4 balls up, designed *all* their jigs to fit the first aircraft and (OMG who'd have thunk it) they did not fit the *second*.

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Form following function

When form so perfectly follows function, beauty happens too.

This engineer can really appreciate what they've done.

It must be an exciting time to be a young engineer just starting along the road, when we're approaching that time when if it can be imagined, it can be made.

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Angel

When the time comes...

count me in for a donation towards the cost of printing LOHAN.

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Happy

Voice over

Has the woman doing the voice over just learnt how to speak or something?

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Happy

An internal laser printed isogrid.

I think it might also be the *smallest* laser sintered isogrid anywhere.

BTW one of the DIY versions of these machines uses 25lbs of sugar for the working material.

Ingenious and I imagine quite tasty as well.

No doubt BAE will stick 3 noughts on the price and try to sell it to the MoD.

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Pint

Interestingly...

...a similar printer can use water in an inkjet print head to moisten clay microparticles.

The output could be fired and used as a stand-alone object, or used as a mold to cast metal parts.

This would be hella fun to play with!

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Happy

@Disco-Legend-Zeke

"...a similar printer can use water in an inkjet print head to moisten clay microparticles."

That suggests something fairly temperature resistant but very light.

It also offers the possibility of closed cell cavities so water resistant as well.

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Happy

Good to see...

British engineering still must be accompanied by a cup of tea.

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WHAT WAS IN FACT ACHIEVED?

"...to do what other men have done...."

One wonders what the application would be.... 3D is so useless on fine tolerances that it is well... useless. Certainly there is far better aerodynamic data available than the 1930 elliptical wing design - not to mention the "space frames" over Berlin!

What a waste of money and energy.

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Fantastic achievement "in a week",

but I can't help thinking that, with a little more time, they could have designed a perfect monocoque. The internal struts must add ineffective mass. With stereolithography they could make the skin thickness variable to suit the stresses acoss the skin.

I'm impressed by the way they could just fly it straight off the launcher immediately after construction. When our new aircraft carriers arrive I shall expect them to have stereolithographic turrets instead of 'planes.

Never mind flying cars, mine's the disposable aeroplane - no need to buy them in job lots any more - just recycle it as tomorrow's 'plane. Ditto for the "packet of three"? (Well maybe not the recycling bit:). And my garage 'lith could put the perfect profile back on the extra sticky bike tyres while I'm asleep.

So many dreams, but how long before the industrial establishment get's this taxed out of existence or crippled by health and safety?

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wim

Structure

I think they choose the structure with internal struts to show that complex forms are possible.

Of course variable thicknesses would be more effective but less impressive from the "look what we can do with this printer" perspective.

just my opinion.

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I'm not an engineer

but I've always thought that adding material in the plane of the stresses increases mass efficiency, which is why plate girders are typically aligned vertically not horizontally.

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Joke

I won't be impressed..

.. until they manage to print a plane on the cement printer they use to print complete houses (which is, btw, a pretty awesome thing too). What works for canoes ought to work for planes.

What? Too heavy? Why do you think I would be impressed?

:-)

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Trollface

Why not just print your own Lohan doll?

Her personality couldn't be any more wooden.

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Was this designed at Peenemünde ?

Is it just me, or when you see this thing on its launcher, does it look like a V1 flying bomb ?

Top stuff though. Makes me wish I'd been clever enough for university.

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@Phil Parker

Just goes to show that if you want to launch something in a straight line at speed, there's only really one way of doing it. Personally I thought "ballista" when I saw it, which shows how old that design pattern is.

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Unhappy

Incredible ...

combination of computer modelling (eliminate the obviously bad designs) and 3D printing (quickly knocking out prototypes) could shorten complex projects by a significant amount.

OK, so we're not quite at the stage where a 3D printer can produce a complex design (e.g. a fully working gearbox) but it will certainly make it easier to make the constituent parts.

I look forward to seeing the advances the US and China make with this technology, while British kids are vying to get on the next X factor.

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WTF?

This vid has got to be one of the...

... Worst. Voice. Overs. Ever.

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