Sep 27, 2016 | By Alec

Back in July of this year, the drone community was pleasantly surprised by the release of the Teal drone, the world’s fastest production drone with top speeds of over 70 mph. It’s really an astounding machine to see in action, even more so when you find out it was actually developed by the 18-year-old Utah-based developer George Matus. Drone enthusiasts are obviously eagerly awaiting the release of this very customizable drone, with shipping expected to start at the end of the year, but we are more intrigued by the Teal’s development process. For as product developer Chris Hsiao of Gossamer revealed, 3D printing technology played a crucial role in the development of this record-breaking speed demon.

But let’s start with the drone itself, as it is truly a paradigm-shifting creation. Officially launched in late July, Teal Drones reach speeds of over 70 mph and are capable of withstanding winds of up to 40 mph – easily breaking through existing records. What’s more the Teal is weatherproof and powered by the NVIDIA Jetson TX1, forming a revolutionary airborne supercomputer that can record 4K video and snap 13MP photos. Thanks to its Follow-Me feature, it can even autonomously follow you around.

In many ways, it’s thus one of the most powerful drones available to the public, and yet the Teal is fully customizable and open to both beginning and hardcore enthusiasts looking to race, gather data or simply explore the skies. While priced at a hefty $1300, the Teal arguably creates its very own class of flying opportunities. It’s no wonder that drone fans everywhere spontaneously started salivating.

Those stats are even more remarkable when you find out that mastermind George Matus is only 18 years old – though he has been dreaming about drones since he was eleven. Unlike most kids, the 11-year-old was seduced by the construction and modification of RC aircraft and drones, and started obsessively studying all aspects of flight. “Between the time I was 11-16 years old, I was able to fly most of the products on the market, get hands on experience, and basically build this wish list of everything I would want in a drone if I were ever to build my own,” Matus recalled in an interview. “That’s how Teal came to be.”

Upon moving to Salt Lake City two years ago, he started Teal with the help of some pre-seed money from angel investor Mark Harris. The dream was simple in its ambition: to develop an incredibly fast, powerful, functional and accessible drone that is suitable for every conceivable drone application. Development was subsequently further supported by backing from the Thiel Fellowship, a foundation started by tech billionaire Peter Thiel that gives a $100,000 grants to young people who want to build new ideas and products. Matus’s plans were so convincing that he even secured $2.8 million during a completely under-the-radar seed round led by Pelion Venture Partners.

But what few people know is that this drone was actually conceived through 3D printing. For the body development, Matus enlisted the help of the Dallas-based product developer Gossamer, founded by Chris Hsiao. And as Hsiao explained, the challenge was in tailoring the legs, covers, battery cases and frames to suit the very specific list of needs and limitations Matus was envisioning. To realize this, Hsiao therefore purchased a MakerBot 3D printer to bring rapid iterating, real-time decision-making and extensive prototyping opportunities to the table.

Fortunately, Hsiao has extensive experience in designing aircraft parts and other very sleek and aerodynamic products (with Toyota and Airbus Helicopters among his clientele) and added valueof 3D printing quickly became apparent. “If we were going to make parts for a drone, we have the option of drafting them up in Solidworks. But we needed to actually get a feel for the parts in our hands because the shapes are so organic. Making the parts out of sheet metal or machining would’ve also been too costly,” Hsiao says on the MakerBot website. “So we went out and got a MakerBot. It was an easy decision to buy it, given the price, and the expensive, time consuming tasks it replaces. Its paid for itself several times over.”

Most importantly, the Gossamer team noticed that 3D printing can greatly speed up development. “Typically, it takes us days to create new models in foam or wood, and outsourcing can take weeks. Using our Replicator, we were able to have prototypes within a few hours,” Hsiao revealed, adding that it helped them reach their deadline. It was also particularly easy to embed the 3D printer in their workflow, as it allowed for continuous adjustments.

However, the developers did decide to upgrade to the Smart Extruder+ halfway during the project, as it improved the 3D printer’s reliability. This greatly helped them to realize the very specific body requirements of the Teal. “The Teal’s body required us to build some complex shapes and fine details into our designs. We needed to create smaller parts that snap together well, while facilitating the ideal arrangement of motors and electronic components,” Hsiao explains.

All in all, they 3D printed the upper and bottom shrouds, the battery cases and the center frames, and physically interacting with their prototypes made it very easy to check and understand design changes. “Being able to create quick, high quality prototypes gave us a better feel for the sort of organic shapes we were designing, while letting us check the physical fit and test different orientations. It helped us really hone and perfect these parts,” Hsiao added.

In fact, the Gossamer iteration process was completed in just a few months, much quicker than previous comparable projects. Hsiao and his team are therefore looking forward to integrating more 3D printing into their workflow, and have already been given early access to the MakerBot Replicator+ 3D printer. With its larger build volume and high 3D printing speeds, it should be perfect for rapid prototyping. “[This] is part of how we describe Gossamer to potential clients. Our ability to perfect ideas and turn around projects quickly is a great competitive advantage, and MakerBot’s printers have helped make that possible,” Hsiao concluded. And of course the Teal drone itself is an astounding example of high speed digital development through 3D printing.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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bornveture wrote at 10/3/2016 10:38:49 AM:

hw can I get one ..please my email is

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