The first 3D printed plane is making its debut, and nope, it’s not another one that’s been made in miniature by a hobbyist. And while it’s not full-scale, it’s certainly presenting a huge milestone to the world as a 13-foot flying drone. It’s also the perfect example of how a company like Airbus is able to use every benefit of 3D printing in creating what Airbus have named the aircraft Thor – which stands for ‘Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality.’
Thor is a windowless drone that weighs in at 46 pounds (21 kilograms) and is less than four metres (13 feet) in length.
Speaking at the International Aerospace Exhibition and Air Show, Detlev Konigorski, who was in charge of developing Thor, said: ‘This is a test of what’s possible with 3D printing technology.
‘We want to see if we can speed up the development process by using 3D printing not just for individual parts but for an entire system.’
Despite its model-like appearance, the small pilotless propeller aircraft is a first in aviation technology, and could give a glimpse into a future where 3D printing technology could save time, fuel and money.
The aircraft is completely 3D-printed, except the electrical elements, which are built from a substance called polyamide.
According to the plane’s chief engineer, Gunnar Haase, the plane ‘flies beautifully, and is very stable.’
Both Airbus, and their rival, Boeing, are using 3D printing to make parts for some of their planes, such as the A350 and B787 Dreamliner.is obviously just a stepping stone to their eventual fleet of futuristic 3D printed jets.
3D printing technology is fast evolving, with companies now producing objects ranging from castles to lawn mowers.
But until now, no one has been able to print a 3D airplane that flies.
Now, European aerospace company, Airbus, has created a mini-plane, named Thor, which is the world’s first 3D printed aircraft.