To realize the joint goal to design and develop an advanced 3D printed demonstration aircraft, the final UAV – which has a 3m (9ft.) wingspan and weighs only 15kg (33lb.) – leveraged 3D printing for 80 percent of its design and manufacture and is built on the expertise of Aurora Flight Sciences’ aerospace and Stratasys’ additive manufacturing.
According to Dan Campbell, Aerospace Research Engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences, the project achieved various targets. “A primary goal for us was to show the aerospace industry just how quickly you can go from designing to building to flying a 3D printed jet-powered aircraft. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed UAV ever produced.”
“This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace,” says Scott Sevcik, Aerospace & Defense Senior Business Development Manager, Vertical Solutions at Stratasys. “This meant using different 3D printing materials and technologies together on one aircraft to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing and 3D print both lightweight and capable structural components.”
For Aurora, Stratasys’ additive manufacturing solutions provided the design-optimization to produce a stiff, lightweight structure without the common restrictions of traditional manufacturing methods. This also enabled the cost-effective development of a customized – or mission-specific vehicle – without the cost constraints of low-volume production. Read more