16 DECEMBER 2013
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Airbus has signed a research agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to explore the use of digital manufacturing in aerospace.
Working with Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) and his team, the aircraft manufacturer will evaluate how the digital material concepts being developed at MIT can potentially be applied to the design and construction of aerospace vehicles.
Digital material technology is based on the idea that a complex structure can be constructed by assembling a simple set of discrete components, similar to how the body builds all of its proteins from amino acids. When the novel parts developed by MIT are assembled, much like snap-together building blocks – the resulting structure is not only lightweight, but also extremely durable and easy to disassemble and reassemble. The technique, which could lead to a totally new way of assembling aeroplanes, may offer substantial benefits, including lighter aircraft structures as well as lower construction and assembly costs.
Airbus is also exploring the use of 3D digital printing for the cost and weight saving potential it offers in the production of individual parts or even larger airframe structures. www.airbus.com
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