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A new approach to making airplane parts, minus the infrastructure (news.mit.edu)
30 points by chmaynard 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 9 comments

If it eventually makes into production, this is going to be BIG. It should drastically reduce cost of manufacture of composite parts. Albeit it seems like new approach will not be applicable for entusiast use since it requires custom setup for particular part.

> "Instead of placing layers of material inside an oven to cure, the researchers essentially wrapped them in an ultrathin film of carbon nanotubes (CNTs). When they applied an electric current to the film, the CNTs, like a nanoscale electric blanket, quickly generated heat, causing the materials within to cure and fuse together.

With this out-of-oven, or OoO, technique, the team was able to produce composites as strong as the materials made in conventional airplane manufacturing ovens, using only 1 percent of the energy."

I hope that isn't a case of "we managed to avoid using a little bit of cheap energy by the application of a lot of expensive exotic carbon nanotubes."

The lower energy consumption is a fringe benefit. The main benefit they're pursuing is drastically reduced equipment size/cost:

“If you’re making a primary structure like a fuselage or wing, you need to build a pressure vessel, or autoclave, the size of a two- or three-story building, which itself requires time and money to pressurize,” says Brian Wardle, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. “These things are massive pieces of infrastructure. Now we can make primary structure materials without autoclave pressure, so we can get rid of all that infrastructure.”

If you're building a fuselage or wing, you need big infrastructure anyway. Boeing's composite wing factory is 1.2 million square feet.

Shifting costs from marginal to fixed works at scale. Though I’m not sure aerospace has this scale (today).

This was something I was curious about a few weeks ago, how many commercial jets are created each year, and it is in the low thousands. Its harder to get a good number on the smaller aircraft market, but I was astounded by how little production there actually was of large commercial jets.

Current screenshot of A380’s in flight, seems crazy to me: https://imgur.com/a/Y1dpqls

I'm actually surprised it's that high, considering how long they try to maintain commercial jets (decades) and the relative lack of new models.

can we say diy stealth tech...

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