Using 3D Printing for Flow Mapping

Graduate students at the University of Maryland have used 3D Printing to solve an important problem in fluid dynamics for the Air Force.

By Greg Paulsen · September 09, 2014

Helicopter’s stir up a large dust cloud when landing or hovering.
Helicopters stir up a large dust cloud when landing or hovering.

Graduate students at the University of Maryland have used 3D Printing to solve an important problem in fluid dynamics for the Air Force.

Helicopter brownout is the phenomena when a rotorcraft performs a landing or hovering maneuver close to a surface with lose sand or sediment causing a large cloud to form around the aircraft. This is one of the most costly problems for the Air Force, since it causes the pilots vision to be obstructed and wear and tear on the machinery. At the University of Maryland a group of engineers are working on researching the fluid mechanics behind this process, with the goal of preventing or limiting it for current and future aircraft. One of the main objectives is to analyze how the flow changes when the surface topology changes. With the help of Xometry as well as Direct Dimensions, University of Maryland's Kyle Corfman was able to recreate an accurate and rigid piece of the sand bed surface after it was eroded by the rotor flow. Now accurate flow measurements can be performed within the crater formed under the helicopter, which was previously not possible. (Thank you to Kyle Corfman, Student – University of Maryland, Department of Mechanical Engineering)

The box represents the scanned sand section and the red piece is a tinted polyjet piece created using Xometry's Objet Connex 500 (PolyJet 3D Printer).
The box represents the scanned sand section and the red piece is a tinted polyjet piece created using Xometry's Objet Connex 500 (PolyJet 3D Printer).

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