3D Printing and Printed Electronics Combined in Hybrid "Smart" Wing

Printed electronics photoStratasys/Video screen capture

There's been much hype about 3D printing cutting waste and increasing efficiency. From the mind-blowing 3D printing of super green houses to a mobile 3D printer in a Prius, folks are already demonstrating that this is not science fiction, but a very real innovation that could transform how we make things.

From printed OLED lighting to spray on solar cells, the prospect of printed electronics also promises smarter artifacts, less waste and lighter-weight complex structures.

So the creation of 3D printed wings with spray on electronics for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) could have potential way beyond the present military applications. The joint development of a model "smart" UAV wing between 3D printer maker, Stratasys (who incidentally provided the 3D printer for the famous Chipotle ad about small farmers) and printed electronics system manufacturer, Optomec, is claimed to be the first time that electronics have been printed on to a complex geometric shape like this.

Besides offering lighter weight embedded components for unmanned, and possibly even manned, aviation—the project could have implications for embedding electronics and solar generating capacity into everything from wind turbines blades to printed housing components.

We are living in interested times.

3D Printing and Printed Electronics Combined in Hybrid "Smart" Wing
A new development combining pray-on electronics with 3D printed wings could have applications way beyond aviation.

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