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The Construction of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with Additive Manufacturing and Windform Material

The Construction of an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with Additive Manufacturing and Windform Material

  • Tuesday, 31st May 2016
  • Reading time: about 4 minutes

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Reinforced composite materials that were used in the construction of on-car and wind tunnel parts and components for racing teams have taken the technology of 3D Printing to new heights to produce parts for the entertainment industry and consumers.

The project has involved two companies: CRP Technology and Parrot and the aim is the construction of the First Leisure Drone: Bebop 2.

Founded in 1994 by Henri Seydoux, Parrot launched a quadricopter piloted by Wi-Fi with a smartphone and equipped with embedded camera in 2010: the AR Drone. Since then, Parrot says it has been leading the way in the civil drone industries with a range of drones and minidrones, and continues to guide the innovation with the state-of-the-art Bebop 2, launched in 2015.

According to Parrot, the  Bebop 2 combines robustness and reliability in a lightweight and compact drone. Powerful with impressive stability and maneuverability even in extreme conditions, Bebop 2 offers very easy-to-use piloting with no learning. Data collected by seven sensors are analysed and merged thanks to the impressive calculation capability of its onboard computer. Bebop 2 integrates a front facing camera specifically designed for it.

A pilot can digitally change the angle of the camera by 180° by just sliding a finger on the screen of the piloting device. Digitally stabilised on 3-axis thanks to powerful algorithms, images are bright, perfectly stable and without distortion regardless of the drone movements.

Parrot adds that numerous systems reinforced the safety of the flights: emergency cut-out feature of the engines, emergency cut-out feature of the propellers in case of contact, limitation of the altitude and of the flying perimeter, automatic return home feature and a LED, at the back of the machine, to understand the direction of the flight while keeping the drone in sight.

Parrot has developed Bebop 2 with the help of Windform GT material.

The first Bebop 2 structure was built on injected parts made with polyamide based glass reinforced composite material.

Parrot moved to SLS technology in collaboration with CRP Technology in order to:

  • optimise the structure performance without developing long lead time and high cost injection tooling

  • accelerate iteration generation

  • improve manufacturing time

  • facilitate production in series

Parrot carried out an original development approach based on experimental diagnosis and FE model aimed at improving the quality of the video during flight (which is usually altered by the vibrations of the drone) through the optimisation of drone design.

The structure has been mainly developed according to that target and by finding smart design to reduce weight.

Parrot validated that natural frequencies of parts manufactured with Windform GT material were similar to injected parts with polyamide based glass reinforced composite material. Combined to FE analysis, Parrot has dramatically reduced the development time. It was also able to evaluate toughness of the product structure.

Parrot highlights other advantages obtained with Additive Manufacturing and Windform GT material:

  • make small batches of production with acceptable mechanical properties to provide functional products to the team (i.e very helpful to develop others product’s functionalities like flying performances for example).

  • good aesthesis if needed

The Bebop 2 parts in Windform GT are the main structure (central body) and all singles arms. The body is robust and flexible, and the arms are reinforced.                                       

From CRP Technology’s point of view, the requirements were fast iteration process, best ratio between structural strength and weight, acceptable consistent result and opportunity to combine multiples functionalities from one unique part.

CRP Technology says it provides fast response time to new requirements, very good cooperation with its engineers and CAD designers, and best output quality with unique proprietary process.


Image provided by CRP Technology

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