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3D printed rotary engine restores vintage WWI fighter plane for Topeka museum – 3ders.org (blog)

by • April 29, 2016 • No Comments

Apr 30, 2016 | By Tess
Additive making technologies have assisted to reinvigorate the aerospace industry in many ways, by enabling for faster prototyping, as well as the making of lighter, additional efficient parts. The innovation, yet, has not only been useful in creating new and futuristic technologies inside the industry, but has in addition assisted to restore old aircrafts, assisting to fill in the history of aviation. At the Topeka Air Combat Museum in Kansas for instance, one volunteer assisted to restore the replica of a WWI fighter plane via 3D printing technologies, enabling for museum-goers to see the early aircraft in all its glory.

The aircraft, a De Havilland 2, was obtained by the museum in 2015, yet only 80% of the plane’s structure was in tact as a rear-mounted engine was missing. The Topeka museum, which has relied on the assist of dedicated volunteers to assist restore previous aircraft versions, asked one of their many talented volunteers, Gene Howerter, to take on the job, yet at the age of 75, he decided it was too much work.
Fortunately, another volunteer, who had been working with the museum to turn it into a virtual tour of their only of 40 aircraft, decided he was up for the task. The volunteer was Huw Thomas, an associate professor of industrial create at the University of Kansas. Normally, the museum’s restorations required a number of new, traditional materials such as wood, metal scraps, glue, and paint to fish, yet with Thomas heading the restoring system, he decided to take a various route: which of digital create and 3D printing.
According to Thomas, he was able-bodied to return it into a digital version of the plane’s missing rear engine with the assist of a 1915 service guide which he managed to track down. Even the createing system took hm of 60 hours to fish. For the actual 3D printing of the engine, which was fishd in a number of tiny parts, Thomas utilized facilities at the Univeristy of Kansas which were equipped with two LulzBot Taz 3D printing equipment. To manufacture the printing system go actually faster, Thomas invested in his own 3D printing device, so parts may be manufacture at his home simultaneously.

With the 3D printing equipment, it yet took the industrial createer of 400 hours to print the airplane engine parts, as every of the engine’s nine cylinders were created in separate halves. After the printing, Thomas assembled all the plastic pieces via a sturdy adhesive. The restoration project, which began in November, was only only not long ago fishd, as last Wednesday the 3D printed engine was given a propeller and fitted onto the back of the WWI fighter plane replica. In the end, the engine measured an astounding three feet in length and 14 inches in width, weighing only a few pounds.
The 3D printed engine, which was fishd at no cost (except materials) by Thomas, can be announced to museum visitors in the next, on Wednesday April 26th, where it can be displayed in the museum’s main hangar. Today, Thomas is working on createing the replica of a Lewis machine gun for the De Havilland, which he in addition plans to 3D print to assist fish the plane version.

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