Boeing has plans to weather test its planes with 3D-printed fake ice

boeing 3d printed ice 787
Commercial and private aircraft encounter ice on a regular basis and this combination of ice and aviation is as dangerous as it sounds. The frozen water can adhere to a plane’s wing and fuselage changing its aerodynamics and possibly causing the plane to crash. To test an aircraft’s ability to shed this dangerous ice, Boeing may be developing a 3D-printed artificial ice that replicates all relevant weather conditions, making it ideal for ground testing.


According to a patent application filed by Boeing and found by AeroPatent, the aircraft manufacturer is exploring the possibility of using a 3D-printed plastic ice to simulate icing on a plane. The material can print in different shapes that fit on a plane’s wings, flaps and the engine just like real ice. The amount of ice that is formed can be controlled with precision, allowing researchers to monitor changes in the plane’s aerodynamics and test the aircraft’s de-icing capabilities. The material also can be printed according to FAA icing certification requirements so any testing with the material will receive FAA approval.

Each ice piece can be printed in a testing facility and applied using a double-sided adhesive foam that allows for the removal and placement of a variety of different shapes depending on the testing conditions. Because they are 3D printed, these 3D forms can be designed and applied in a short amount or time and with minimal damage to the aircraft.

This 3D-printed technique offers a significant improvement over existing testing protocols that require a plane to be outfitted with artificial ice shapes comprised of fiberglass resin that are bolted to the aircraft chassis. These synthetic ice components are tedious to make and often damage the test plane to which they are applied. In conventional fiberglass tests, the demo aircraft is rendered unusable, adding to the overall cost of research and development.

Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
Emerging Tech

Glowing space billboards could show ads in the night sky

Look up at the night sky in 2020 and you might see an ad for McDonald's floating among the stars. A Russian startup is working on a project that uses a constellation of small satellites in low-Earth orbit to create glowing ads.
Emerging Tech

New brainwave reader tells teachers if students are concentrating

Massachusetts-based startup BrainCo has developed brainwave-reading headbands which can reportedly help reveal if students are concentrating in class. Here's how they're being used.
Emerging Tech

Fears about kids’ screen use may have been overblown, Oxford researchers find

Many people take it as gospel that digital technologies are harmful to young people’s mental health. But is this true? A recent study from the University of Oxford takes a closer look.
Emerging Tech

Meet Wiliot, a battery-less Bluetooth chip that pulls power from thin air

A tiny chip from a semiconductor company called Wiliot could harvest energy out of thin air, the company claims. No battery needed. The paper-thin device pulls power from ambient radio frequencies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals.
Emerging Tech

Hexbot is a modular robot arm that does everything from drawing to playing chess

Who wouldn’t want their own personal robot arm to do everything from laser engraving to competing against you in a game of chess? That's what Hexbot, a new modular robot, promises to deliver.