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

3D printed castle

A man in Minnesota didn’t just manage to design his own 3D printer, but he used it to 3D print a storey-high concrete castle!

This is just a test-run however, as he plans on building a full size two-storey house with it!

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/man-3d-prints-castle-back-garden-u…

A 3D-printed castle

A building contractor living in Minnesota has developed his own 3D printer which can print concrete directly from CAD design software, and he has used it to 3D-print a castle in his back garden.

According to 3DPrint.com, Andrey Rudenko has printed a small single-level castle (a child’s playhouse) in just three months, as part of a test before printing a full-sized two story house, which would make it bigger than the houses that were 3D-printed in 24 hours in China.

Similar to the Chinese inventor Ma Yihe, Rudenko has built a 3D printer that prints out a mixture of cement and sand in layers measuring 20mm by 5mm, using technology and software from the open-source RepRap 3D printing project.

However, Rudenko, who has a background in architecture and engineering, is critical of Ma’s design. He thinks that the ten 200 sq m houses that Ma printed are more like shells than homes.

“A cheap house built in 24 hours is not my goal. As an experienced builder, I know that to avoid problems in the future, it is more important to produce homes of a good quality, which may take longer to build than cheaper homes made quickly,” Rudenko said.

“It would be more beneficial to print a complete home, including the foundation for the staircase, fireplace, certain furniture (kitchen island etc), columns, interior walls, and any wiring or plumbing that would fit inside the printed walls.”

He has also designed his 3D printer to print the concrete at such a high viscosity that the printed walls can act as a decorative element, as opposed to the Chinese homes, which had quite rough-looking jagged edges, and would require sheetrock (dry wall) to be added on top before they would be habitable.

Rudenko’s castle was printed completely outside in his garden, where the cement sets quickly in the warm summer temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Farenheit).

The structure is large enough for adults to walk into, and to give you a measure of how long it took to print, the darker area of the castle, which measures 50cm in height, was constructed in eight hours using his 3D printer.

“I still have some imperfections, mostly when I stop the printer, but if I print nonstop, the layers look great,” said Rudenko.

“Though I’m not completely finished with this structure yet, from the current progress, I can already see that I am ready for the next step, which is printing a house with this technology.”

Rudenko is looking to collaborate on his 3D printer project with other architects, engineers, builders and 3D-printing enthusiasts (his email is listed at the end of the video).

The race to produce 3D printers that can print buildings continues as, in theory, the technology could bring affordable housing to people in developing countries and revolutionise the construction industry.

Slovenian firm BetAbram plans to release a 3D printer that can print a house next month. The BetAbram P3 can print structures measuring up to 144 sq m.

IBTIMES.CO.UK
by  | July 31, 2014 16:15 BST