There are very few technologies as crucial to modern innovation as the aircraft. The problem is that planes are expensive, fuel intensive and require complex design work. Naturally, companies have been trying to solve each of these issues with limited success. Eviation and Stratasys appear to have made breakthroughs that would overturn the industry.
Electric aircraft can go a long way in curing a lot of the problems inherent in the aircraft industry. The problem, so far, has been one of producing and testing designs. 3D printing complex parts has made the process faster and cheaper. It has also enabled designs specific to electric aircraft that would otherwise take far too long.
Another factor that makes these aircraft unique is that the company plans to use them for short distances and inter-city travel. Instead of setting their business strategy to one involving long distances for large groups, they’ve opted for another tactic. Their current model would give them a unique position and take advantage of the energy efficiency and the low passenger size of their planes.
In experimenting with designs, they altered the motor designs and wing tips. 3D printing allowed them to run preliminary tests far faster than any other means would allow. The design teams used ULTEM 1010 and covered it with carbon fiber in making their designs. The teams estimate that this new production process will save several hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Eviation has also announced that they will probably begin flight testing in 2018 and hopefully make the plane commercially available by 2021.
3D Printing and Aircrafts
Stratasys has made a name for itself in defence and aerospace applications. While Stratasys may well be one of the most prominent companies in aerospace 3D printing, they are not the only one. We previously covered the Boeing and Norsk Titanium deal that is set to
Generally, project for space and air travel tend to involve DMLS printing. Direct Metal Laser Sintering is one of the most efficient ways to process metallic parts of considerable size. In this case, the teams used FDM to prototype the early version of various parts. They used Stratsys Fortus 450mc to print ABS versions of motors as placeholders till the final product was available.