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3D Printing to “Grow” an Aircraft

 
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3D printing has come a long way in the last ten years. What was once a brand new, innovative technology can now print parts for machines – and even the human body. Recently, a professor at Glasgow University determined that there really is a way to grow drones with chemical 3D printing. Here’s how it works.

An Amazing Partnership

BAE Systems partnered up with a professor at Glasgow University to put a very interesting theory to the test. They wanted to find out if they could essentially “grow” a functional drone using 3D printing technology. Unlike some 3D printers that simply lay down layer after layer of plastic or other compounds, this one is an advanced form of printing that takes place in a chemical bath. The professor and engineers theorize that they can use the technology to supply military-grade aircraft on site. What’s more, the company claims it could do this using sustainable materials.  At this point, though, it is merely a theory.

Is It Really in the Cards?

When you take the time to think about all of the advances in 3D printing in recent years, it comes as no real surprise that a group of engineers and a professor believe that 3D printing aircraft is not only doable, but also the way of the future. Because the aircraft would be grown for military use, the team would have a nearly unlimited supply of funding and access to some of the brightest minds in the entire world. Military experts theorize that the drones could be the “first responders” in missions of high importance, and they could even outrun missiles, if necessary.

Is It Limited to Just Drones?

For the time being, the team is only focusing its efforts on growing drones in chemical vats. Although the technology may be able to create full-size manned aircraft, the team is starting small. Drones play vital roles in home defense and emergency response, too. They could be used for delivering emergency supplies following a natural disaster or even to fight fires with the right programming. Drones can help protect human lives by going into dangerous situations in their places.

Past, Present, and Future

Of course, 3D printing is already being used in aerospace. For example, the Juno satellite that entered Jupiter’s atmosphere contains a variety of 3D printed parts that cannot be readily manufactured on an assembly line. Naval ships carry 3D printers in order to create the parts they need in the event they experience some sort of crisis or have a need for parts while they are out to see. The future is still unclear, and while printing drones in chemical baths will take some time to achieve, experts think that the future may see printed computers, smartphones, automobiles, and even entire homes.

3D printing is a great example of how great minds can work together to accomplish a common goal. The aircraft that are theorized by BAE Systems and Glasgow University could undeniably save lives, but they are a long way from making it a reality. Hopefully, it will happen sooner rather than later and push the 3D printing industry further than ever before.

 

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