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The Antelope flying car with its sleek, futuristic design looks like something out of a science fiction movie, but the concept is far less pie-in-sky than several decades ago.
Flying vehicles are being developed all around the world and could become the future of urban transport. The Antelope was designed by graduates of the Royal College of Art Intelligent Mobility program who chose ENATA Aerospace, UAE to manufacture this innovative flying car concept. Sicomin has worked with ENATA since 2016 and was the natural choice when it came to the selection of epoxy resins for this exciting project.
The London-based Master of Arts course attracts designers from across the globe and reflects a world that increasingly requires vehicles to connect, share, electrify and become autonomous. This year’s graduates designed the Antelope: a one-seat, carbon fibre, multi-rotor flying vehicle. The flying car initially demonstrates the ability to hover and tilt to achieve forward motion. The next step will be to take off like a helicopter. This will be followed by a transition to tilted fans. The achieved speed will then generate lift from the body of the car and the Antelope will continue to fly like an airplane.
ENATA Aerospace – well known for its advanced unmanned aerial vehicles, radio-controlled planes and multicopters – was selected by the RCA graduates to build the ½ scale demonstrator in-house at their facilities in Sharjah, UAE. The company used ultra-light aerospace materials and techniques to meet the highest quality and tolerancing standards, and to keep the weight to an absolute minimum. ENATA Aerospace’s interactive customer progress report system provided daily updates allowing the graduates to monitor the manufacturing process. Within the challenging deadline of 60 days, ENATA Aerospace delivered the Antelope which is 2.5m long, 1.5m wide and has a full carbon fibre frame with a body weight of only 9 kgs.
ENATA’s philosophy is defined by high performance, and to achieve this across all their applications – from advanced aerial vehicles, to powerboats and cutting-edge architectural projects – designs are underpinned by advanced composites technology.
The company used its robotic milling capability to rapidly mill a set of 32 moulds that were used to manufacture the car body. The external surface sandwich panels were moulded from low-density PEI foam and ultra-thin biax carbon fibre non crimp fabric. This carbon fabric is built up from uni directional layers at different orientations; using 2 to 3 layers of 30 grs, depending on the areas.
The internal structure is made up of sandwich panels using carbon fibre fabrics and a nomex honeycomb core material. All body panels were wet laminated, and vacuum consolidated using female moulds to provide the optimum surface finish.
ENATA chose Sicomin’s advanced epoxy laminating systems for the structure of the Antelope, combining excellent mechanical performance with optimised processing characteristics. Epoxy resin is significantly stronger than alternative resin types, has good fatigue performance and durability, and is proven to work well when combined with carbon fibre.
Sicomin’s SR1700 epoxy system was selected, having been specially formulated for the production of high performance composites such as aerospace applications. The system has a very low viscosity at ambient temperature and can be used with various hardeners for the vacuum moulding of small or large parts to optimise working time. It offers an excellent adhesion to a variety of reinforcements such as glass, aramid and carbon.
“ENATA has worked with Sicomin on the FOILER, drones and many other composite products for many years. As a result, we had every confidence that Sicomin’s high-quality epoxy resins would be a perfect fit for the revolutionary Antelope flying car concept.” says Olivier Nicolas, CEO of ENATA Aerospace. Marc Denjean, Export Manager of Sicomin adds, “It has been a pleasure to support ENATA Aerospace with this beautiful and innovative hybrid design and we look forward to continuing our successful collaboration.”
Image provided by Sicomin
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