Mar. 24, 2015 | By Simon

Although it might sound like something that is years into the future, having an award show that focuses on photos and videos that are made using drones is actually something that’s happening now.  The Dronie Awards, which are hosted by Adafruit, aim to highlight both the talent and the technology that have made this new style of storytelling possible.   

But to take things a step further into that aforementioned “future”, the Adafruit team - particularly Adafruit designer Neo Ruiz - have taken the concept of a physical award a step further by offering a 3D printed Drone award that features moving parts and was printed using the company’s BronzeFill 3D printer filament.

The filament, which offers “straight from the printer parts that look almost laser sintered with a matte finish”, can be sanded and polished to reveal copper particles that are embedded in the filament material.  Weighing in at approximately three-times heavier than traditional PLA/PHA filaments, it is designed to be used in existing Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printers such as the E3D and the MakerBot Replicator 2.    

To create the Dronie Award, Ruiz started with Dronie artwork provided by Adafruit’s creative director that he then placed into a 3D modeler to build out the three-dimensional features and other design engineering considerations.  Once a final design direction - along with specific infill needs -  were established, it was time to send the file off to the 3D printer to be printed at 100 microns.

Since larger objects tend to stick to the 3D printer’s surface, extra care was taken when removing each of the final parts of the trophy assembly.  This was done carefully using a spatula and controlled force.  

Once all of the parts had been printed, trimmed, and finished, Ruiz and team tumbled them for between one and two hours in order to establish a desired level of shine.  The tumbling process is considered a necessary step for many metal-based filaments in order to achieve a metal-like aesthetic quality.  In order to attach the larger pieces of the trophy assembly together, Ruiz used a conservative amount of gel adhesive and locking clamps.  

To print the smaller and more detailed hardware components, Ruiz used an Autodesk Ember SLA 3D printer.  These parts were then used for securing the spinning propellers to the drone body.  Finally, he incorporated magnets into both the main body of the trophy as well as the base of the drone to make it attached yet easily removable.  

While not everybody will be able to receive one of these custom trophies, Ruiz’s approach towards creating a unique and memorable trophy design is without a doubt an excellent use of the company’s BronzeFill material.

You can stay updated on the Dronie Awards by heading over to the Adafruit blog or following the hashtag #DronieAwards.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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