Just like the superhero Thor, Airbus’ latest innovation of the same name is a mighty creation.
Made using addictive manufacturing (AM), the mini plane is the world’s first 3D printed aircraft and the OEM showcased its latest innovation at the ILA Berlin Air Show 2016.
Sporting a windowless, plain fuselage weighing just 21 kilograms and measuring less than four meters in length, THOR (Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality) has already made quite the mark on the industry and demonstrated exactly what can be achieved through 3D printing.
According to AFP, Detlev Konigorski, who was in charge of developing THOR for Airbus, says: “This is a test of what's possible with 3D printing technology”.
"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," he adds.
Indeed, in recent years, 3D printing has become a technology of great interest among manufacturers, with the likes of Airbus, Boeing and CFM International exploring how they can embrace it today and lead the way tomorrow.
For example, CFM International - a joint venture between GE Aviation and Snecma (Safran) - has incorporated the technology within the build of its LEAP engine. Each engine features 19 3D printed fuel nozzles in its combustion system, delivering benefits such as: a 25% weight reduction, an improvement in durability and an overall simpler design.
And, Airbus’ latest effort is further proof of the industry’s investment and belief in AM.
But, while Airbus’ THOR certainly turned heads at the airshow (even alongside beasts like the A380 and 787), the European manufacturer still has some way to go before it can introduce its first 3D printed passenger jet.