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Berlin Air Show: 3D-printing makes airplanes lighter


06-02-2016 17:06 BJT

The 2016 ILA Berlin Air Show has attracted more than 1,000 exhibitors from 37 countries to the four-day event and features the latest aircraft and technology.

It also offers a variety of supporting events and shows for experts and the general public. Airbus brought a special aircraft - THOR -- to the exhibition. The name doesn't refer to the super hero but stands for "Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality".

The whole of the THOR - aside from its engine, batteries and landing wheels - were 3D-printed. The plane is three meters long but only weighs just over 21 kilograms.

Airbus and US rival Boeing are already using 3D printing technology in their existing planes to print certain parts. Insiders say the technology will become a trend.

"The advantage of 3D printing is that we are very fast. When we get a file we can print each part of the plan in a short time. And it is 100 percent reproducible," said Gunnar Haase, airbus developer of THOR.

"I think that the trends that we are going to see in the aviation industry over the next few years are clear. It is about building more and more efficient airplanes and using lighter components," said David Haase, editor of Airliners.De.

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