Stratasys Ltd., a 3-D printing and additive manufacturing solutions company has teamed up with Aurora Flight Sciences to deliver what it says is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3-D printed unmanned aerial vehicle ever produced.
The UAV, or drone, was unveiled for the first time at the Dubai Airshow, which runs until Nov. 12. It can achieve speeds in excess of 150 mph. The 9-foot wingspan is 80 percent 3-D printed, and uses lightweight Stratasys materials.
Aurora Flight Sciences aerospace research engineer Dan Campbell said: “A primary goal for us was to show the aerospace industry just how quickly you can go from designing to building to flying a 3-D printed jet-powered aircraft. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3-D printed UAV ever produced.”
Scott Sevcik, aerospace and defense senior business development manager at Stratasys, said: “This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace.
“This meant using different 3-D printing materials and technologies together on one aircraft to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing and 3-D print both lightweight and capable structural components.”
He said the collaborative project with Aurora achieved one of the foremost overall goals among aerospace manufacturers, as well as those in other industries, namely the need to constantly reduce weight.
The bulk of the 30-pound structure uses ASA produced through fusion deposition modeling.
Sevcik added: “Whether by air, water or on land, lightweight vehicles use less fuel. 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.”