In yet another revolutionary innovation in airline industry, Stratasys limited teamed up with researchers from the Aurora Flight Sciences and developed the world’s first 3D printed, jet powered drone, which was unveiled at the Dubai Airshow. It is the world’s largest and fastest 3D printed drone, weighing 33lbs with a wingspan of 9 feet and flying at a blistering speed of 150 miles per hour.
Over 80% of the drone has been manufactured using the 3D printing technology, enabling them to design and build the unmanned aerial vehicle in half the time of the traditional manufacturing processes. Its design is made using different printing techniques – filament extrusion, laser sintering and laser melting technology.
“This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace,” says Stratasys Senior Business Development Manager Scott Sevcik. “This meant using different 3D printing materials and technologies together on one aircraft to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing and 3D print both lightweight and capable structural components.”
A strong and light weight material called ULTEM was used which meets the flame, smoke and toxicity requirements set by FAA. The center-body fuselage took the longest print time of 9 days while the rest of the components took few hours to few days to manufacture. Overall, it took more than a month from initial integration to assembly and testing and the researchers hope to build a second one in two to three weeks from start to finish.
“Whether by air, water or on land, lightweight vehicles use less fuel,” said Scott Sevcik. “This enables companies to lower operational costs, as well as reduce environmental impact. In addition, using only the exact material needed for production is expected to reduce acquisition cost by eliminating waste and reducing scrap and recycling costs.”
Here’s a short video explaining how the drone was built.