Photography was revolutionized when chemicals on paper were replaced by digital pixels on a screen. Now NASA has shown it is possible to digitize the structure of an aircraft and produce a complete airframe from tiny three-dimensional building blocks. Researchers assembled and tested a 14-ft.-span wind-tunnel model of a flying-wing aircraft that was built mostly from ultra-lightweight, injection-molded 2-in. octahedrons. These unit cells, or “voxels,” were used to create the 3D ...

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