It seems like everywhere you turn right now there is something about 3D printing in the media. There’s no denying it’s the kind of technology that is going to change our planet in a multitude of ways – some better than others. One of the most recent discoveries, however, is something that could change not just our planet, but our exploration to other planets too.
The Next Generation of Spaceships
Researchers have been working long and hard on creating ceramic parts for a variety of different applications, particularly in engineering. After all, ceramic is light, strong and handles a lot better than most other materials. One of the biggest drawbacks of ceramic is that it cracks easily, and so this was another point the researchers wanted to address. By combatting this issue and creating customised ceramic parts, it could now be easier than ever to create the next generation of spaceships. The findings could mean a new wave of aircraft that could travel at hypersonic speeds too; making a journey from New York to Tokyo in a matter of hours.
So, how did they do it? Scientists at HRL Labs in Malibu have come up with a resin formula that can easily be 3D printed into customisable parts, in practically any shape or size you can dream up. This resin can then be fired to create a material that is ceramic-like but without any of the usual drawbacks. This means it can deal with extremely high temperatures – over 1,700 degrees celsius – and it’s ten times stronger than similar materials. Usually, ceramic is a lot harder to mould than something like metal or plastic, which was yet another drawback for the scientists. However, this new resin formula has turned ceramic into a material that is far more malleable. In fact, it works in a similar way to plastic.
Putting it to Use
Now that the scientists at HRL have come up with such an incredible material, what will it be used for? Well, they’re pretty keen on using their new ceramic for spaceships and the potential for hypersonic aircraft. By 3D printing ceramic engines and bodies, it could open up a whole wealth of possibilities in space and aviation industries. Its strength and ability to withstand extremely high temperatures is obviously a big selling point, but there are other benefits too. With the advancement of 3D printing it’s likely that the small parts for spacecraft and satellites could be easily (and cheaply) made with this new resin formula. While many of the smaller parts of spaceships are exhausted after takeoff, this new finding could make it possible for those pieces to withstand the high velocity and temperatures.
Overall, it’s likely that these new findings could create the next generation of spaceships, along with hypersonic aircraft for both domestic and military use. It’s now down to the scientists at HRL Labs to refine their resin formula, keep testing, and finally release it to bodies such as NASA to put to good use.