3d Printed Jet Engines
A precision engineering company working on creating jet engines with laser sintering was bought Nov 20 by GE. 3d printing is getting to the point where it’s not only economical to do rapid prototyping with the machines, the high end printers can produce parts that are production ready.
One of the main worries has to be modeling accurately the internal stresses and weaknesses of these printed prototypes. While fracture models of traditional steel and materials are well known, we need to devote resources to understand the new patterns that may show under sintered materials. For now, vastly overengineering the parts is the solution, but that cuts into the benefit 3d printing gives of less wasted materials.
Which brings us to the news that researchers in Europe are working on fractal 3d printed structures they claim carry loads similar to traditional structures, but with far less material. This reminds me of a post by Stephen Wolfram about programmatically generating bridge shapes using computational mining. Is the architecture of the future one of sweeping fractal bridges and buildings?