Airbus Introduces 3D-Printed Unmanned Airplane
Airbus introduced the first 3D printed airplane at the recent International Aerospace Exhibition in Germany, demonstrating what the company calls the future of aerospace manufacturing. The 13-foot-long unmanned airplane, somewhat resembling a full-scale Airbus jet but with propellers, is named Thor, short for “Test of Hi-tech Objectives in Reality,” according to a report from phys.org. "This is a test of what's possible with 3D printing technology," Thor’s developer, Detlev Konigorski, said during a speech at the Schoenefeld airport. "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."
Thor is already undergoing flight testing. The airplane first flew in November in Germany and “flies beautifully, it is very stable," chief engineer Gunnar Haase told phys.org. Airbus plans to patent its parts-printing technology and is presumed to pursue the development of full-scale airliners, as reported by 3Dprint.com. The aircraft has about 50 parts made from a 3D printer, which allows for quick reproduction of any component, according to the report.