May 25, 2016 | By Tess

With 3D printing and drone technologies advancing at steady rates, the two fields are becoming increasingly entwined as drone developers find additive manufacturing to be an increasingly useful way to create either prototypes or custom end-parts for their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Here again, we see the two technologies coming together in a collaborative effort by Modena, Italy based CRP Technology, a division of CRP Group, and French wireless products manufacturer Parrot to create the Bebop 2, a high performance leisure drone.

The Bebop 2, the second generation of Parrot’s Bebop drone, launched late in 2015 and offers consumers an affordable (priced at $549) leisure drone. The drone, which features an easy-to-use piloting system, a wide-angle front facing camera (with digital stability), and emergency cut-out systems for both the engines and propellers making it suitable for beginners, was developed by Parrot with the help of 3D printing company CRP Technology and Windform GT, a polyamide based glass microfiber reinforced composite material.

In the early stages of the Bebop 2’s development, Parrot used injection parts made from a polyamide based glass reinforced composite material. To explore their manufacturing options, however, and to see first hand the benefits of 3D printing technologies, Parrot enlisted the help of CRP Technology to integrate additive manufacturing into their process. Using SLS 3D printing technology and Windform GT material, Parrot and CRP Technology were able to significantly speed up the development of the second generation drone, as well as its manufacturing time. The companies were also able to create an optimal structure performance for the drone without tacking on long lead times or the high costs of injection tooling.

CRP Technology explains its own priorities when 3D printing the drone parts, which were a fast iteration process, achieving the best ratio between structural strength and weight, consistent results, and combining multiple functionalities into a single part. Additionally, and crucial to the drone’s design, was to create a structure that would help to optimize and improve video quality during flight, meaning a low-vibration and lightweight structure. After seeing the results of the 3D printed parts for the Bebop 2, Parrot found that the natural frequencies of the printed parts were up to par with the injection molded parts, but were developed and manufactured in significantly less time.

In the end, the Bebop 2’s main structure was 3D printed out of Windform GT along with each of its arms, making for a robust, flexible, and reliable drone frame. Having as sturdy a drone as possible was a necessary factor in accounting for the inevitable crash landings beginners undergo. Fortunately, Windform GT is known for its elasticity, ductility, and impact resistance, all of which make it a useful material for applications in the automotive industry as well as for applications where damage resistance is a high priority, like with UAVs. In addition to its strength and durability, Windform GT has a professional and smooth finish once polished, and is even waterproof.

The Bebop 2 is yet another example of how 3D printing technologies can positively effect the drone industry, and even manufacturing industry at large. With more durable and robust 3D printing materials being developed on the regular, and the printing technologies themselves becoming faster and more precise, it seems likely that drone manufacturing will become increasingly reliant on additive manufacturing processes.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Cade Hanson wrote at 5/25/2016 3:48:11 PM:

Don't Buy a bebop. I got the phantom 3 with 4k camera for $550 (US) on amazon and you can get the phantom 3 standard for $500. Bebops aren't worth the price.

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