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3D Print a Warbird: why not?

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Given how far 3D printing has come, I’m curious to know it’s future potential and limitations. Which made me question the other day: why not 3D print a warbird (or classic car or what have you) someday? 

 

Surely not every single component could be done, but short of millions of dollars and/or finding a wreck and either 1) outsourcing much of the fabrication or 2) learning much of it yourself, it seems like the idea at least has some potential. Sourcing/rebuilding an engine is a huge concern as well...but what if even that could be addressed someday? 

 

I’m sure the idea seems ridiculous to some, but printing in metal is already possible. People on this board come from all sorts of background, so I’m curious to hear your opinions. (If your opinions are baseless or your name is raid, kindly excuse yourself). 

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I know little of the subject, but would 3D printed metal have the tensile strength to withstand the forces, that an airframe in flight has to endure?

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i think nowadays polymers are more capable that the previous era metal :)

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Well that’s fantastic, and thanks for the link! 

 

Anyone know of a printed ICE?

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Am fairly sure 3D printing is used in some F1 engines but don't quote me on it 😎 read it somewhere but can't remember link now

 

Cheers, Dakpilot 

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Airframes are not that hard to by CNC Milling, but 3D printing is awesome for all the Cast and Forged Parts that are under low specific Stress. So mostly Engine Block, Supercharger and Bits, Propeller Hub, . Skins are Hand/Press Work, Ribs and Spants CNC, Spars CNC and so on. 

 

 

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i want to know if you can print a 3d printer and make it something shinny

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Yea 3D printing is becoming a lot more common in engineering in general. It allows for rapid prototyping, manufacture of complex parts that would be almost impossible by casting or milling and can be done in either polymer or metal. In the future it's ability is enormous, BAe has a mother ship concept that 3D prints specific drones for a given situation and is even now being used by NASA to allow people on the ISS to print tools instead of sending them up rockets but it is currently limited by speed and to one material AFAIK plus, as has been said, the quality of the material won't be as good at something milled or grown as a crystal 

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1 hour ago, Guccigang_Zesphr said:

AFAIK plus, as has been said, the quality of the material won't be as good at something milled or grown as a crystal 

That's an "it depends". in 3D printing, you are extremely limited in the choice of materials. When using metals, you use some grade of titanium. This for several reasons. They way this printing works is that a laser melts powder layer by layer. How easily the powder metal distributes on top of the item is a determinant whether you can use it for 3D printing. This specific titanium powder does precisely that. Most of the science in 3D printing goes in precisely getting your raw powder metal ricght. Now, the resulting titanium parts are *very* strong, to the point that they are stronger by a good margin to what you would use as metal if you were to machine that part.

 

In essence, you have one material of excessive strenght that must accept all possible uses. As long as the resulting part is stong enough, all fine. Now aircraft production is something that requires few specific parts, as the total number of produced items/aircraft is very, very low, compared for instance to car production. This means, you can use expensive parts if they save you time in doing them the traditional way. But as soon as you produce millions, this game is against you and you'll use, simpler, machined parts of lower/cheaper grade materials.

 

Now, warbirds are simple creatures regarding most parts and the guys at the shop can cut you what you need faster in the traditional method. Only specific, rare parts (like the supercharger turbine etc.) would actually qualify to be done by printing. But for that, you'd have to have an *exact* 3D mpodel of them. Usually, you just buy a leftover, but creating that *first* item will be a lot of work.

 

In sum, 3D printing comes into play, when a singe, precisely known, however complicated part that would come in lieu of several parts. The other uses would be a very expensive hobby. We are very, very good at machining and cutting parts these days.

 

In fact, 3D printing is the dream come true for German engeneering in the fourties. The Germans were "standardizing" their production such that they use few different parts. They didn't care if those few parts were actually horrendously complex and expensive items. What mattered is the lower part number. This very much in contrast to American planning, where cost (measured in $) was the only metric of real importance.

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