Book of the Week: Introduction to Flight
This week’s selection is “Introduction to Flight” by John D. Anderson Jr.
This book is definitely not about 3D printing per se, but I suspect could be of great interest to many readers. The idea is to help solve one of the problems presented by a 3D printer: What should be 3D printed?
I think aircraft could be 3D printed, at least small RC versions, and that has certainly been done many times in the past.
However, would it not be better to understand more deeply the science of flight so that better-designed aircraft could be produced? That’s what this book is all about.
It does present a bit of a history of flight science, taking you through how the early pioneers transformed their concepts from efficient gliding to actual powered flight. Through their experiments one can learn the most fundamental principles of flight.
There are detailed chapters exploring the principles of the atmosphere and altitude; basic aerodynamics, including thermodynamics, isentropic flow, supersonic flow, etc.
One very interesting chapter explores the geometry of wings, airfoils and “other shapes”. This chapter in particular would be of great value to those designing wings for 3D printing.
For more advanced aircraft designers, there are several chapters on performance, thrust, stability, controls and propulsion. This knowledge could be used to increase the effectiveness of an aircraft design.
There are two chapters on topics unlikely to be involved in 3D printing, at least on a wide scale: hypersonic vehicles and spaceflight. I’m not personally aware of anyone that’s 3D printed gear intended for spaceflight, although we have published posts on several larger companies attempting to leverage 3D printing for rocket motors.
For those new 3D printer operators excited to “make stuff”, some advice would be to learn more about a domain before attempting to design and print parts for a related project. Books like this one allow for a relatively quick basic education on a focused topic. Be it aircraft design, robotics, drones, machines or other projects, you should know something about the topic before proceeding.