back to article Vulture 2 spaceplane rises from the powdered nylon

There's mounting excitement here at the Special Project Bureau's mountaintop headquarters as we prepare to receive the parts of our Vulture 2 spaceplane. Our chums down at 3D printers 3T RPD Ltd have just dusted off the outer wings and wingtip rudder assemblies, seen here in these rough CAD views. The top couple of images show …

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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Andrew Newstead

    Fascinating

    Michelangelo said "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."

    Now it seems to be literally true (although in plastic!).

    Well done to all concerned, this is proving to be fascinating.

  3. lawndart

    says

    If it had been me I would have secretly changed the print program and they would have brushed off the powder to discover a gigantic Playmobil astronaut with a cracked helmet and arms held out zombie-style.

    1. Shasta McNasty
      Coat

      Re: says

      A cracked helmet? Jesus, that sounds painful.

      1. FartingHippo
        Trollface

        Re: says

        Still beats a helmet in your crack though.

        1. joeW
          Alert

          Re: Still beats a helmet in your crack though.

          Speak for yourself mate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: says

      "If it had been me I would have secretly changed the print program and they would have brushed off the powder to discover a gigantic Playmobil astronaut ..."

      Call me old fashioned but I would have changed it so it printed a gigantic penis with attached scrotum.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Elf and safe Tea.

    Good to see he is wearing a mask to stop all that powder from clogging his lungs... he's just about got the mask over his lungs.

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Great work. Looking forward to the rest of the saga

  6. leeph

    I dun geddit

    I dun geddit... is the block of powder being broken down to be fed into the printer, or is the block of

    powder the result of the printing process, and the plane is hidden inside? If the latter, I really didn't think that was the way 3d printers worked...?

    It's really not obvious from the text OR the pictures.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: I dun geddit

      It's the latter. The process is shown in the video.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: I dun geddit

        The opposite of regular 3D printing then, subtractive rather than additive? Like how Apple make their unibody cases?

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: I dun geddit

          It's additive. The machine deposits a thin layer of powder. A laser passes over and burns solid the required surface, creating successive thin slices of the part, one on top of the other. After each burn, another thin layer of raw powder is deposited and the laser passes again. That process repeats hundreds and hundreds of times, to create the part. The unburned powder is what's left around the part at the end. The advantage of the unused powder is that it supports the part during printing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I dun geddit

            How does unused powder get out of sealed cells? Or does the CAD design have to include holes for the powder to escape? Otherwise the poweder will be stuck in the design adding weight?

            Or is there some secret sauce which allows this not to happen?

            Sadly not able to view the video until I am without corporate firewalls.

            1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

              Re: Re: I dun geddit

              You can't have a sealed cell - there must be an aperture to the outside in any void. The parts are cleaned off with a high-pressure mix of the nylon powder and air. Then you just have to hoover the last bits of nylon powder out, rub down with a cloth and you're good to go.

  7. ukgnome

    Is it wring that I read "and a couple of days later were ready to attack this big block of powder"

    And thought, jeez man, that's a lot of charlie.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      It'd certainly give Scarface something to get his nose round for a couple of days.

      1. Captain DaFt

        Oh dear!

        " And thought, jeez man, that's a lot of charlie. "

        So.. if you used *that* to print a few aircraft, would it be a crack fleet?

  8. John Gamble

    Who can take the sunrise, sprinkle it with dew...

    Nylon? Not powdered sugar? I'm disappointed.

    Well, maybe you can make smaller scale versions of your models to decorate your victory cakes.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Question

    In the pictures it appears that the only part in the print is the wing. Also in the movie it appears to be only one part per print.

    A lot of volume it wasted. Is it not possible to fill the printed volume with multiple pieces separated by say 0.5 mm?

    I ask because I expect the printing process to be expensive. I also want to understand the limits of the technology.

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Question

      A fair question. In fact, the wing wasn't the only part in the powder, but 3T removed other clients' bits for the photographs. They pack as many parts into each print as possible, to minimise waste.

  10. Gian

    recycle

    The unused powder can be re used? Maybe after some filtering

  11. Zmodem

    3d are efficient

  12. Hud Dunlap
    WTF?

    So does it still qualify as a paper airplane?

    Just asking.

  13. kwg06516
    FAIL

    Nylon powder smoke!

    Don't breathe this.

    (that's not even the right mask or the right way to use it)

  14. Arachnoid

    Strength?

    I wonder how strong these components are compared with a standard extruded plastic component ,of course both of a less intricate design?

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