3D printing’s popularity is on the rise, and there is good reason for this. What can be done and achieved with 3D printing is all but unheard of up until this point in society. But most of us have focused on the fairly shallow aspects of it. Look, it can build Batman armor that looks picture perfect! While it has many ‘fun’ uses, we as a society have begun to wonder what other areas of life 3D printing can improve. While building superhero armor is cool and impressive, the real question is, are people aware of how this can applied to science and aerospace technology, and just how far an advancement this could potentially be? We are on the doorstep of a technological breakthrough the likes of which this world hasn’t seen before. The aerospace industry, when merged with the technology of 3D printing, shows us just what this new movement is really capable of. While Batsuits are awesome, how about the fact that we are talking about using 3D printing to streamline an entire industry, whilst ultimately advancing it greatly. Super hero suits are cool, but we are talking about actual space here. This isn’t science fiction. This is becoming science fact.
Right now, the U.K government has facilitated growth in the 3D printing industry because they have become more and more aware of how much potential this tech has, and how, if steered towards the aerospace industry, could mark some huge advances over the next decade. There are two new research centers in Coventry that have specifically been put in place to help the advancement of 3D printed designs and research. So what does this have to do with the aerospace industry? The industry has access to an all-new, extra light-weight carbon fiber that can be applied to helicopter designs, jet engines, and most aircraft in general. That, in itself, is huge news. What was once just concept can now become reality in the right hands with the right tech.
Space: In Three Dimensions
When merging this carbon fiber with 3D printing, a whole new world opens up. A world where streamlining the aerospace industry is as simple as being one thought away. An influx of new aero-engines and improved landing gear for most crafts are just a few of the benefits that are expected to be seen in this (still early) phase. Imagine the prospects and possibility for years down the road? This is a game-changer in every way.
Keep in mind, the facilities and 3D printers are only one half of the equation. Companies like Stratasys prove that when the tech lands in the right hands (and minds), they can fine-tune the end result to perfection. 3D printing by itself is impressive for what it can do. Statasys is impressive for making those visions palpable realities. From thermoplastics to production parts and jigs, each of these produced through the advancement of 3D printing. Now you are starting to realize the scope and potential we are talking about here.
The other thing that makes 3D printing so important to the booming aerospace industry is that it works it through from concept to execution. Precision is an absolute necessity in this industry, and you don’t get more precise than the laser accuracy of 3D printing. Companies like Spray Systems (with their remarkable customizable spray paint booths) seem likely to be an important and essential player in the way 3D printing will be utilized for the aerospace industry. It makes it so 3D printing, from concept to execution, has become one-stop shopping.
Where The Industry Will Go Next?
With the government and industry partnering up, the possibilities are endless and the results almost immediate. Coventry has four projects that it will support with 2.1 billion pounds (U.K dollars, in layman’s terms) to the governments Aerospace R&D department. They will be working closely with the Aerospace Technology Institute to ensure all this gets executed as quickly and seamlessly as possible. We are in the midst of a revolution in the aerospace industry, with 3D printing leading the charge. We are even talking about concepts that were once impossible being potentially realized now that this tech exists and has fallen into the right hands. And this is still just phase one.
So the next time you hear 3D printer and imagine making a cool superhero suit from one, realize, there are REAL superheroes working with this stuff, and the end result is set to change aerospace forever.