Making Wind Tunnel Models Faster:

Engineers at the Air Force Research Lab have developed a “rapid prototyping” capability that enables them to produce wind tunnel models in days rather than months, speeding the process of verifying the feasibility of new designs. This year they expect to be able to conduct 13 experiments, nearly twice as many as could be done previously in “a good year,” says Bill Gillard, experimental fluid dynamics team lead. He thinks the number will go up in future. To create these RP models, the engineers use stereolithography (using a laser beam to trace a form, building plastic parts layer by layer) and laser sintering (using a high-powered laser to fuse together small particles of plastic, metal, or ceramic powders).