Feeds

World first: UK boffins print out working 3D aeroplane

Tech for difficult, shapely beauties like the Spitfire or LOHAN

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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 could get a vehicle from the drawing board into the air. The boffins, led by Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan, took their design to 3T RPD in Berkshire, which put its sintering machines to work constructing a layer-by-layer nylon representation of the supplied CAD data.

3T RPD explains: "3D CAD data of a new product or prototype component is sliced into layers, and the powder is sintered (melted) layer by layer. Additional powder is deposited on top of each solidified layer and again sintered. When the part is complete the build chamber is allowed to cool and the component removed."

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

The Southampton team says SLS offers the possibility of putting together an aircraft in a matter of days, and quickly producing custom variants as required.

Naturally, you'll be asking yourselves if this impressive technology could be put to work on our own LOHAN Vulture 2 aircraft, and the answer is we certainly hope so. We've already put out feelers to Southampton University and 3T RPD to see how viable it is for a high-altitude rocketplane, so watch this space... ®

Bootnote

Thanks to the various readers who flagged this one up.

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Microsoft's anti-bug breakthrough: Wire devs to BRAIN SCANNERS
Clippy: It looks your hands are shaking, are you sure you want to commit this code?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.