Aerogels and Airloys
Aerogels are space age materials that are ultralow density and ultralight materials that are made mostly of air. (90-98% Air) They are created from extracting the liquid from a gel to create a substructure through a process called super critical drying. These materials make great insulators and are very fire resistant.
Airloys have many of the same attributes as aerogels, but they are stronger in design. Airloys were designed as a way to fix the flaw of aerogels being brittle and can withstand more force being exerted upon it without breaking like aerogels do.
As good and useful as aerogels and airloys are, at this point the costs to make them are too high to be in every day use. This is due to the method of manufacturing and more than the aerogels themselves, the method needs imroving to the point where it can be manufactured with a better method and substantially lower cost.
Drone technologies are very diverse in potential. While we tend to think of the typical quadcopter form of remote controlled flying drones, they can come in many other forms and not all of them will fly, have standard propellers, or need a remote control.
Drones have and will have many uses including delivering objects, firefighting, finding people, scouting dangerous areas, saving trapped people and observing nature in places too harsh for people. Some designs can stay in the air for months at a time, in the future could fly injured people off the battlefield, are being used in entertainment shows on stage, and can be used as flying lights. Environmental detection such as temperature sensing, will have uses in farming, will work in high places so humans don't have to by doing jobs such as window washing on tall buildings, aerial photography, and more. There are few things drones won't be able to do or can't already.
If you've ever watched some of the old episodes of Star Trek, you've probably seen the "replicators" where they tell a computer what they want and it beams it into existence like magic. This is the basic direction we are headed in with 3d printing.
There are already 3d printed items out there that are rather amazing in design.
In fact, NASA has already sent a wrench into space digitally, where they 3d printed that tool they needed in space when they needed it!
There are several different printing methods and materials being used with some of these materials being made of wood, plastic, or even metal, while some materials are even flexible like rubber!
3D printing is taking us down a path where we will be able to make more advanced items like electronic components with the potential to one day 3d print whole electronics. It will also have use in dental and even medical applications!
There are several methods for 3D Printing being used today, with most of them printing layer by layer, extruding it's material onto a surface to make the object being printed.
There are a few exceptions to this basic method of 3D printing and they are Direct metal deposition which uses wire stock to basically weld the object together, and Computed Axial Lithography which uses beams of light to project the image into a solution that solidifies as an object based on where the light hits, essentially printing the whole item at once. It can even print around other objects!
Computed Axial Lithography
3D Printing Metal
Advanced Designs, Materials, and Uses for 3D Printing
The Things We Can Make With 3D Printing
The Tesla Turbine is a very unique kind of turbine created by Nikola Tesla. This turbine is unique because it has no blades to make it spin yet is very efficient in design. So efficient in design that it is said to have a 60% efficiency (as compared to modern engine designs that are said to have a maximum efficiency of only 40%). While having been patented in 1909, oddly enough is still not being used today. (U.S. Patent #1,061,206)
This turbine works on the "boundary layer effect", where it creates a vortex inside of it due to its shape and area of exhaust. Because of the air or gas passed through it causing friction on the several discs inside of it that makes it spin. The friction causes drag in the direction of the vortex and spins the discs. In fact, this is such a unique design that at faster speeds this turbine is actually more efficient than at slower speeds.
3D Printing in Space
3D Printing Techniques and Technologies
3D Printing is still very much in the experimental stages. Don't let that fool you though, it's already made some serious progress and has many uses to date!