– Dwarfed by huge jets all around, the mini-plane Thor was nonetheless an eye-catcher at the Berlin air show this week — the small Airbus marvel is the world’s first 3D-printed aircraft, AFP reports.
Windowless, weighing in at just 21 kilos and less than four metres long, the drone Thor — short for “Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality” — resembles a large, white model airplane.
“This is a test of what’s possible with 3D printing technology,” said Detlev Konigorski, who was in charge of developing Thor for Airbus, speaking at the International Aerospace Exhibition and Air Show at Berlin’s southern Schoenefeld airport.
“We want to see if we can speed up the development process by using 3D printing not just for individual parts but for an entire system.”
In Thor, the only parts that are not printed from a substance called polyamide are the electrical elements.
Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing are already using 3D printing, notably to make parts for their huge passenger jets the A350 and B787 Dreamliner.
The new 3D printers can make pieces up to 40 centimetres long and is of most use in particularly complex designs.