Boeing Patents Remarkable Levitating 3D Printing Technology

By CIOReview | Wednesday, March 2, 2016
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FREMONT, CA: Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has patented a technology for 3D printing objects, while levitating in space, reports TechCrunch. The technology uses multiple 3D printers along with diamagnetic printing materials that rotate the object on every axis while depositing layers from all directions. The patent entitled, “Free-Form Spatial 3-D Printing Using Part Levitation” reveals Boeing’s plans to leverage the technology for 3D printing aircraft parts in the future.

According to the patent application, “The aircraft produced by exemplary method may include an airframe with a plurality of systems and an interior. Examples of high-level systems include one or more of a propulsion system, an electrical system, a hydraulic system, and an environmental system. Any number of other systems may be included.” The technology holds limitless applications depending on whether Boeing can successfully get it off the ground.

The levitating 3D printing process involves a “nugget” or base of magnetic material that is held in place by creating magnetic fields. The nugget, which is kept floating, can be rotated in any given direction, thereby facilitating the printing of intricate shapes and sizes. Another advantage of the technology is that the printing speed can also be increased, since multiple 3D printers are used at once. Additionally, the patent application proposes several methods for floating the object through manipulation of magnets.

“There is a need for an AM method and apparatus that eliminates the need for a platform and/or support materials to stabilize the part during the fabrication process, and which removes limitations on the types of features that can be formed, allowing full body 3D printing of complex parts,” explained Boeing in their recently published patent.