Apr 27, 2016 | By Kira

BigRep, the Berlin-based 3D printing startup and manufacturer of one of the largest FDM 3D printers in the world, has just released a massive, 220 x 190 x 60 cm 3D printed drone, nicknamed DUSTER. Potentially the largest FDM 3D printed drone in the world, DUSTER features a carbon thread-reinforced frame and is therefore ultra lightweight, stable, and has exciting applications in agriculture and industrial use.

DUSTER, whose official name is OIC Copter System # 42 OT, is the result of a collaboration between BigRep and industrial designer/engineer Robert Reichert. Reichert also happens to be the founder of OiC Drones, a full-service drone provider, and one of the leading pioneers in flying robotic technology.

The DUSTER 3D printed drone features a copter frame that can accommodate eight electric motors, each with up to 3.8kW of power. The load capacity is between 40kg to 60kg, and depending on the load, the drone can reach flight times of up to 40 minutes, or even seventy minutes with additional batteries.

In order to manufacture such an impressively large yet functional UAV, BigRep and Reichert relied on a savvy combination of large-format 3D printing and advanced manufacturing materials. Specifically, they utilized the BigRep ONE, one of the largest 3D printers of the world, which offers a build volume of 1m³ and has the capacity to produce entire pieces of 3D printed furniture at once.

“Without the BigRep ONE, producing a drone of this size would not have been possible,” said Reichert, who stressed that this is the single largest drone he has ever been involved in making. “Large-scale 3D printing allows us to think of completely new dimensions when it comes to building drones. I am very proud to have been involved in the development of DUSTER, since this drone has established a completely new benchmark."

While the BigRep ONE 3D printer, which is now in its third generation, played a crucial role in bringing the DUSTER drone to life, the selected materials were equally important in ensuring its functionality.

As the company explains the 3D printed components, made with the company's Big Orange PLA filament, are well-adapted to absorbing pressure, yet when it comes to any bending or pulling motions, they are likely to break. By incorporating carbon threads, however, the frame can handle pulling forces and effectively absorb the frame’s tension either while it is stationary or in flight.

In fact, the ‘OT’ in the drone’s official name stands for ‘organic tensegrity’, which refers to both the organic design of the 3D printed frame and the tension-absorbing carbon threads.

“The combination of the thin-walled, hollow 3D printed parts and the carbon threads is essential for the stability and function of a ultra-light drone of this size,” said the company. “By combining the two materials, the shortcomings of the individual materials are perfectly balanced, which enhances the advantages of both.”

While 3D printed drones are finding applications in everything from emergency construction to covert military missions, BigRep and Reichert believe that the DUSTER’s 3D printed copter frame is versatile enough to find applications in a range of industries. Specifically, they foresee its usefulness in the agriculture sector, where it’s large frame would make it ideal for a controlled, semi-autonomous delivery of fertilizers and biological pesticides. Another idea would be to use in the sustainable cultivation of wine.

The 2-meter-wide FDM 3D printed DUSTER drone was officially unveiled at the Hannover Messe 2016 Industrial Technology Exhibition, taking place from April 25-29 in Germany.

3D printed UAVs and drones are certainly one of the hottest topics in the industry right now, as their applications and design can vary widely. As potentially the largest FDM 3D printed drone ever made, the DUSTER presents exciting possibilities both in terms of its construction and applications, and we're looking forward to seeing further developments in the field.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Julian wrote at 5/1/2016 1:35:16 PM:

That bigrep printer is really impressive!

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