3-D printers are already being used to create machine parts and small toys, but engineers have now used the technology to build an entire vehicle: a plastic, unmanned airplane that actually flies.
The plane, created by engineering students at the University of Virginia (U.Va.), has a 6.5-foot wingspan, and was made from assembled printed parts.
The team tested their creation during four flights in August and early September at Milton Airfield near Keswick, Va. The aircraft, which is only the third 3-D-printed plane known to have been built and flown, achieved a cruising speed of 45 mph.
3-D printing is already proving to be a valuable tool in teaching students, said David Sheffler, an engineer at U.Va. who worked with students Steven Easter and Jonathan Turman to create the aircraft.
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