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Sonic "Boom" - Cruising at 2x the speed of sound with additive manufacturing

aaron pearson
Aaron Pearson March 24, 2020
March 24, 2020

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Boom Supersonic Taps into the Power of 3D Printing

There’s a magic number in physics – and for Boom Supersonic alongside Stratasys 3D printing – it’s finally on the radar.

This special number is the speed at which a sound wave travels through air.  It changes based on atmospheric conditions like temperature, density, and pressure - but for reference - it’s about 760mph at standard sea level conditions. 

Early in aviation, it was thought an aircraft could never fly as fast as sound, because of the instability experienced as an aircraft approached this magic number.  Soon the ingenuity of engineers and the boldness of test pilots proved an aircraft could travel faster than sound. And when it did, a shockwave formed on the leading edge of the aircraft - heard on the ground as a sonic boom as the vehicle travels by.

And while traveling ahead of that sonic boom is not something experienced during commercial air travel in more than a decade, Boom Supersonic is set to change all that.

The airplane manufacturer is well on its way to bringing the supersonic experience back to commercial air travel.  Set to fly in coming months, the XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is a precursor to Boom’s Overture– which will carry commercial passengers at more than 2X the speed of sound.

But building airplanes that can safely travel at Mach 2.2 requires bringing together well-proven technologies to manufacture in a whole new way. Boom is doing just that by taking advantage of advances in engine technology, composites, and digital design that were unavailable the last time supersonic commercial air travel was attempted. Another technology that has reached maturity since the industry’s last attempt is 3D printing.

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To learn more about putting the power of Stratasys additive manufacturing solutions to work in high-performance environments, explore our aerospace page.

Companies like Boom are starting to take flight with 3D printing from Stratasys.

Boom Supersonic has used the Stratasys F370 and Fortus 450mc 3D printers for two years – saving hundreds of hours of manufacturing time and rapidly 3D printing more than 200 parts for tooling, prototypes, a flight simulator, and test benches. As part of a new seven-year agreement, Boom is set to expand this use of 3D printing beyond what have become everyday uses of 3D printing – by capitalizing on the Stratasys F900 3D Printer with the Aircraft Interiors Solution (AIS) package.

Offering the highest repeatability and largest build size of any FDM system, the F900 AIS configuration is the 3D printing solution needed for companies relying on proven technology to quickly develop a new aircraft.  No other 3D printer is able to provide the combination of material properties and process control required to quickly qualify printed parts for on-aircraft applications.

Mike Jagemann, Head of XB-1 Production at Boom told us they love being able to 3D print critical parts and components on-site rather than purchasing them from a supplier, “We can create custom parts, increase our speed from engineering to manufacturing, focus on building the aircraft and fulfill our vision of commercial supersonic travel,” he says. “Stratasys’ standing as a global leader in 3D printed aerospace applications makes them the ideal partner for us in the long-term.”

To learn more about putting the power of Stratasys additive manufacturing solutions to work in high-performance environments, explore our aerospace page.

The runway is clear. Time to take off with 3D printing!