Mar 10, 2016 | By Alec

We here at see plenty of 3D printed drones frequently, and we just love original interpretations that explore the edges of what is possible. Remember these 3D printed drones that can carry building materials? But 3D printing is a bit of a double edged sword for drone technology: it makes them far more available than ever before, but at the same time it limits them to 3D printable materials. However, the latest project by Australian Fusion Imaging shows that there still are plenty of opportunities for 3D printed drones. Using Shapeways’ new Raw Aluminum Material, they have 3D printed an aluminum drone that set a mind-blowing speed record of nearly 90 (141 km) mph.

To our knowledge, this is the fastest 3D printed drone in existence, and it came about as a promotional project by Shapeways. The Dutch 3D printing service obviously has a large number of available materials already, covering both metals and plastic, but Aluminum is different. As lightweight as many plastics, it is actually far stronger and thus a perfect option for rigorous drone action. Shapeways therefore asked Fusion Imaging – one of the most popular drone related Shapeways shops – to design a drone that illustrates this point.

According to Shapeways’ Andrew Thomas, this was a very interesting test to work on. “This is really exciting, because this is the first time we’ve 3D printed any fully aluminum FPV parts. This aluminum is solid, and has been made with Direct Metal Laser Melting. The printer heats up a bed of aluminum powder, and the laser melts that powder. Another layer is added over that, and melts that, [and so on]”, he says in the clip below. He went on to explain that the material is similar to, but much stronger than, laser sintered nylon. While that can be bended when you add force. “With these parts, there’s no way [to bend it]. It’s much more rigid, and is able to take a lot more heat and results in a stronger design than nylon ever could be,” he added. The motor cooler, for instance, is a lot more efficient when made from aluminum.

As designer Haydn Bao revealed, they came up with was a very powerful drone that relies on Lumenier 2206 motors. The 3D printed arms are lightweight and protect the wires and batteries, while transferring heat. “The aluminum seems to do really well for vibrations. For some reason, its working better than carbon. Under rapid movement, there’s a lot less prop wash,” he says in the clip below.

The advantages of the material are readily visible, as the maiden flight of the drone revealed. Even on that first test flight, the lightweight, strong and heat resistant frame enabled them to reach speeds of nearly 90 miles an hour. “The guys at Fusion Imaging here in Sydney are pumped and ready to off the world’s first 3D printed aluminum FPV racing drone,” they said of the fun project.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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