The world’s first plane created entirely by 3D printing takes flight

3d-printed-airplane-newscientistThe news from the world of 3D printing just gets cooler by the week. Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan of the University of Southampton have designed and printed a model, flying plane. Yes, printed. We are still in the phase where that verb should inspire awe when noting it can produce more than a book report. They’ve named this version “Sulsa” (Southampton University Laster Sintered Aircraft).

The team first laid out the designs of their prototype on a computer and then instructed the printer to create the plane in layers 100 micrometers thick. Powders of plastic, steel or titanium are spread in a two dimensional arrangement of the needed layer and then a laser’s heat then fuses that layer with the previous. Think about building a sandcastle by sprinkling a layer in circle, then sprinkling another on top and patting the two together, and repeating until you have a full structure.

The plane they ultimately built had a wingspan of 1.5 meters and cost about £5,000 (about $8,100) to produce. It also was built with an electric motor which obviated the need for fuel. The design took about two days and the printing only took five. During its short flight, it was able to reach speeds up to 100 mph.

When one thinks about those kinds of statistics and that this is the first of its kind, you can’t help but see a very different future for human-assisted manufacturing.

Check the video for the first flight and more insight on assembly.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

Montblanc Summit 2 offers smart functionality but still looks good with a suit

Montblanc’s Summit 2 is the first smartwatch to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100 processor. It’s feature packed, with GPS, NFC for Google Pay, and a heart rate sensor, but it also has the classic timepiece look.
Product Review

With the Form 2, 3D printing is finally as simple as it was always supposed to be

Thanks to a myriad of smart design upgrades, the Form 2 is more user-friendly than any other SLA printer we’ve ever encountered.
Emerging Tech

You won't need to print money to afford these great 3D printers

Looking for a decent 3D printer that won't break the bank? Check out our regularly-updated list of the best 3D printers under $1,000
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Outdoors

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.