Engineers-in-Training Apply 3D Printing Technology To Advance Flight Technology

Defying gravity is made easy at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering. Here, students in the Department of Aerospace Engineering are using high tech 3D printers for a wide range of U.S. Army funded projects, including the analysis of alternate modes of flight for potential military applications.

Take a closer look at how 3D printing technology from Objet Geometries is revolutionizing research and testing processes, laying the foundation for the next generation of aerospace breakthroughs:

After the examination and relation of how insects avoid obstacles during flight, the department employed Objet's 3D printing technology to design and manufacture the first structure used aboard small helicopters that allow sensors to test for close obstacle avoidance.

Department engineers applied 3D printing technology to invent the smallest radio-controlled robotic samara, which mimics the aerodynamics of maple tree seeds. The result: a light, hovering device that might have military applications or be used to inspect structures.

Creation of an unmanned electric powered radio controlled aircraft model - with a four-foot wingspan and detailed specifications for wind tunnel conditions - for the annual Cessna/Raytheon Missile Systems Student "Design/Built/Fly" competition.

Around since the early 1990's, 3D printing, also known as rapid prototyping, transforms computer-generated images into solid models - all from a machine about the size of a photocopier. This allows engineers to create identical prototypes for multiple experiments faster than ever before-dramatically improving the viability of test results, reducing errors and speeding up the process.

For more than 50 years, the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Maryland A. James Clark School of Engineering has pioneered breakthroughs in understanding flight, exploring space and designing aerospace components, vehicles and systems. This program has earned a reputation for excellence in engineering education and research. The school's research laboratories-focused on areas such as advances propulsion, composites and hypersonics-are world renowned.

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