While 3D-printing has not advanced to the point of producing entire functional airplanes, designers just 3D-printed the largest metal airplane part yet. David Benjamin’s architecture firm, The Living, in collaboration with Airbus, Autodesk, and APWorks, produced a "Bionic Partition" to serve as a barrier between the seating area and the galley in an Airbus A320 jet. The part is almost 50 percent lighter and considerably stronger than traditional models, and it can make air travel more eco-friendly by cutting carbon emissions over time.
Airplane partitions are typically very heavy – and they need to be equipped with a cutout for emergency stretchers and a fold-down chair for cabin attendants. This creates a tricky puzzle for engineers looking to lighten the load. The new 3D-printed partition features a functional, yet artistic criss-cross design that turns out to be even stronger than its predecessor. Best of all, when you take into account the existing number of A320 planes, Airbus estimates that the new partition could save up to 465,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.
The Bionic Partition is currently undergoing 16G crash testing before it is certified and introduced to the current fleet of A320 planes. This is not the first innovation by Benjamin and The Living, as seen in his interview with Inhabitat. In 2014 the designer grew a building from mushroom matter by creating self-assembling plant-based bricks, and before that he grew materials from bacteria. It is clear we have not yet seen the last of the creative minds at The Living.
Images via The Living