A version of this article appears in the July 7 edition of Aviation Week & Space Technology. As the English writer Samuel Johnson once said about a dog walking on its hind legs, “It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all.” I wonder if this isn’t at the root of the recent enthusiasm in aerospace over 3-D printing. It’s not that I am not suitably impressed by the ability of a relatively low-cost machine to manufacture a plastic 3-D shape from ...

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