The individual parts for the anterior wing were cut using a water jet system, and Jenett took several minutes to do each part. The new system uses injection molding with polyethylene resin in a complex 3D mold, and produces each part, essentially a hollow cube formed by slabs the size of a match along each edge, in just 17 seconds, he says, what It brings it closer. at scalable production levels.
"Now we have a manufacturing method," he says. While there is an initial investment in tools, once this is done, "the pieces are cheap," he says. "We have boxes and boxes of them, all the same."
The resulting lattice, he says, has a density of 5.6 kilograms per cubic meter. By way of comparison, rubber has a density of around 1,500 kilograms per cubic meter. "They have the same stiffness, but ours has less than about one thousandth of the density," says Jenett.
Because the general configuration of the wing or other structure is constructed from small subunits, it does not really matter what the shape is. "You can do any geometry you want," he says. "The fact that most airplanes have the same shape," in essence a tube with wings, "is due to expenses, not always the most efficient way." But mbadive investments in design, tools and production processes make it easier to stick with long-established configurations.
Studies have shown that an integrated body and wing structure could be much more efficient for many applications, he says, and with this system they could easily build, test, modify and retest.
"The research is promising to reduce costs and increase the performance of large, light and rigid structures," says Daniel Campbell, structural researcher at Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company that was not involved in this research. "The most promising short-term applications are structural applications for aircraft and space-based structures, such as antennas."
The new wing was designed to be as large as it could be in NASA's high-speed wind tunnel at the Langley Research Center, where it performed even slightly better than expected, says Jenett.
The same system could be used to make other structures as well, says Jenett, including wing-like wind turbine blades, where the ability to bademble on-site could avoid the ever-longer transport problems of blades. Similar bademblies are being developed to build space structures, and could eventually be useful for bridges and other high-performance structures.