Engineers at University of Southampton have designed and tested the Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft aka SULSA. This unmanned air vehicle (UAV) could bring a new revolution to the economics of aircraft design. SULSA is world's first 'printed aircraft' and all of its structure, including wings, controls and access hatches have been printed using EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine. It's important to note that no fasteners were used in assembling the aircraft. The final structure was built by using the 'snap fit' technique. This technique allows assembling the aircraft within minutes.
SULSA: Credit: Southhampton University
The SULSA has 2 meter wide wingspan and it's entirely an electric powered aircraft. SULSA is capable of flying at top speed of 100 mph. The plane remains silent in the cruise mode and it's also equipped with an auto-pilot mode specially designed for the aircraft by Dr Matt Bennett, one of the team members. Laser sintering offers many advantages over the conventional aircraft parts manufacturing techniques. The technique also cuts down the time of development of aircraft from design to first flight by several months, as it allows aircraft to be conceptualized and flown in just few days. The project is being led by Professors Andy Keane and Jim Scanlan of the Southhampton University.
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