3D printing capabilities and drones

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/drones-might-be-getting-smaller-3d-printing-technology-can-make-them-faster-lighter-1498237

Boeing and Sheffield University's 3D printed UAV

Drones might be getting smaller but 3D printing technology can make them faster and lighter

The past two years has seen the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry transform from being a military tool and a niche aerial hobbyist aircraft to a technology that has a wide number of commercial and consumer use cases.

This has come about due to the advent of much smaller UAVs, or rather drones that weigh less than 20kg, which has finally convinced authorities around the world that they are safe enough for widespread use.

However, although they are light, drones are about to get a lot lighter still as 3D printing technology is now being trialled to speed up prototyping and production, and the materials being developed are even better than those used in consumer and professional drone rigs today.

In the UK, aerospace and defence manufacturer Boeing is working with the University of Sheffield to research and develop complexly designed UAVs more cheaply using 3D printing, which is also known as additive manufacturing.

The engineers have succeeded in using Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), a type of 3D printing technology, to print out all the components needed in a drone, including the catapult rig used to launch it into the air.

The drone consists of nine 3D printed thermoplastic parts that snap together. It features blended winglets and is powered by an electric ducted fan propulsion system incorporated into the airframe’s central spine.

“We’d like to use this kind of thing to show novel manufacturing methods. It’s still heavier than drones that use a foam wing, but the benefit is that you can quickly change it,” Dr Garth Nicholson, principal design engineer of Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing’s Design Prototyping and Testing Centre, told IBTimes UK at the SkyTech 2015 drone trade show in London.

“We envision that in a humanitarian situation with a number of pilots who could only bring a limited number of spare parts of them, they could have a 3D printer in the field to print parts, or replace and put in different sensors that they need at the time.

“The benefit would be that you could also quickly rip it up, dispose of it safely and produce a new completely new rig in less than 24 hours.”

Using CarbonSLS to build drones

Other companies, such as Buckinghamshire-based firm Graphite Additive Manufacturing is looking into Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), another 3D printing technology, in order to produce lighter drones.

Drone 3D printed from CarbonSLS

“We’ve developed a material called CarbonSLS which uses a nylon powder with added carbon fibre strands. It was developed for use in Formula One racing cars, so it’s strong and it’s light,” Keith Haynes, project manager of Graphite Additive Manufacturing, told IBTimes UK, also speaking at SkyTech 2015.

“By using CarbonSLS, we were able to save at least 25% in weight by replacing the frame of this quadcopter drone with a frame made from our material.

“It flew just as well as the original, but even easier to control as it’s moving less weight around.”

The firm was set up two years ago by Kevin Lambourne, who formerly worked for Red Bull Racing to provide 3D printed parts to build Formula One race cars, so the materials developed have had to be very tough.

Haynes said: “We’ve come from a motor sports background and it’s not something we planned to go into, but we’ve had so many requests from the military, aerospace companies and small drone businesses about using our material to build drones that we’re now actively promoting it.”

ibtimes.co.uk

by at SkyTech 2015 | April 24, 2015 18:16 BST
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The World’s tiniest drill!

Another Unique Product Created by 3D Printing: The World’s Tiniest Drill!

http://3dprint.com/51677/3d-printed-smallest-drill/

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3D printing has shown that it is the perfect technology to use when wishing to create something unique, whether it is a piece of jewelry, a keepsake, or even a house or car. The technology, unlike that of more traditional means of manufacturing, is an affordable way of creating one-of-a-kind products, and is one of the reasons I love covering the industry. There is always something new to report on, and today is no different.
Lance Abernethy is an ordinary man from Auckland, New Zealand. He works as a maintenance engineer, fixing machinery in a factory. However, the idea that recently popped into his head was not ordinary at all.
“I have always liked small things and have created small items since I was a little kid,” Abernethy tells 3DPrint.com. “I was with my work colleagues and was talking about mythical stories about one country making a twist drill and sending it to another. The other country returned it with a hole through the middle. Things like this easily challenge me and my idea was born.”
The 3D Printed Drill
That idea was to create the world’s smallest working drill, and he would do this using his Ultimaker 2 3D printer. To start off, he used a CAD software package calledOnshape 3D. He drew the outer shell of the drill, using his “normal” size drill as a reference.
“I wanted to make it as small as possible so I cramped all my parts as tight as possible,” Abernethy tells us.
Once he had the design just the way he wanted it, he 3D printed it on his Ultimaker 2, using a 0.25mm nozzle and a 0.04mm layer height. He also set his printer to print very slowly, at just 10mm per second. Printed without any support, the 3-piece drill took about 25 minutes to completely print out. The drill consists of two halves plus a 3D printed chuck which is pressed onto the motor shaft. Abernethy uses a hearing aid battery for power, a small button, and a miniature motor. For wiring, he stripped out a headphone cable. While 3D printing was really quite easy, assembling the drill was another story.
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“It took me 3 hours to solder and try and squeeze [all the parts] in,” he tells us. “The wires kept breaking off when I was trying to connect them and it was a nightmare trying to hold them in place and try to not short the battery.”
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When complete, the drill — which measures just 17mm tall, 7.5mm wide, and 13mm long — holds a 0.5mm twist drill and can drill through soft objects.
“I have seen claims of the world’s smallest cordless drill and I know mine is smaller but it’s not a confirmed claim,” Abernethy tells us.
What’s next for Abernethy? He wants to make an even smaller drill, using a smaller battery that he has already found. It should be interesting to see how small he can get it. What do you think about this incredibly small 3D printed drill? Discuss in the 3D printed drill forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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3DPRINT.COM
by  | MARCH 18, 2015