Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing materials originally developed for the motorsports industry by CRP Technology in Modena, Italy, and Mooresville, North Carolina, are being used to manufacture Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly called drones.
Engineers at CRP Technology and Hexadrone, crafted a modular UAS using Laser Sintering technology and Windform composite materials. CRP Technology, CRP Group’s specialized company in advanced 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing solutions, developed the Windform family of high-performance composite materials.
Engineers implemented a rugged, waterproof design to construct Hexadrone’s first fully modular, easy-to-use UAS made for extreme weather conditions and industrial and multipurpose applications. Rapidly swappable arms and three quick release attachments make the Tundra-M extremely flexible to meet the needs of any profession, while making operational conditions easier to maintain, officials say.
Hexadrone officials asked CRP to devise the functional prototype of the Tundra-M, Hexadrone’s very first mass-produced drone: “We have engineered our drone by means of a cautious, multifaceted, and collaborative based approach with the involvement of broad-based stakeholders,” Hexadrone CEO Alexandre Labesse says. “In the course of two years of consulting, research, and development, we have gathered all the advice and customers’ testimonials useful to its design and which finally helped us in the process of devising an ideal UAV solution.”
Suitable for different flight scenarios and professional uses, the multifunctional Tundra-M boasts four quick-connect arms and three accessory connections. The body and other main parts are made of composite polyamide-based material. Carbon-filled Windform SP and Windform XT 2.0 materials are shaped into pieces using the Selective Laser Sintering 3D Printing Technology. The four arms supporting the body frame of the Tundra were 3D printed using Windform XT 2.0 composite material. The rest of the components were developed with the Windform SP composite material.
Understanding the limitations with traditional manufacturing technologies, the companies identified the opportunity to develop a unique UAS based on the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies. Additive Manufacturing technologies in UAS applications has presented both opportunity and challenges to engineers in the field. The ability to produce parts and components using AM technologies hold promise in both metals and plastics, whereas traditional subtractive manufacturing technologies can be restrictive in design development and material selection.