15 reasons for 3D printing drones

Polymer 3D printing technology has many applications in the drone industry. Rapid Prototyping and customization of drone components can provide several advantages.

  • Lighter components
  • Aerodynamics. Shape complexity is one of the major advantages of 3d printed components.
  • Cost effective drone designs.

Here are some key applications of polymer 3D printing for drones:

  1. Customized Drone Frames: Drone frames are usually made with lightweight aluminium. This gives better rigidity. Recently more drone manufacturers are moving to engineering plastics with generative design. Engineering plastics such as PEEK and Ultem provide acceptable rigidity at lower weights. This means more complex aerodynamic shapes with higher payloads. Polymer 3D printing is less expensive compared to Aluminium 3D printing, by an order of magnitude.

2. Propellers: Custom designed 3D printed propellers can enhance performance. Designers experiment with shape, size and materials to improve efficiency. Apart from improving aerodynamics, this also helps in noise reduction.

3. Accessories: Many accessories get 3D printed. Landing gear, camera mounts and battery compartments are some examples. 3D printing also helps to improve designs with each design revision.

4. Spares: 3D printing is a quick way of making replacement parts and spares for drones. This means less inventory.

5. Sensor Housings: Custom sensor housings to protect cameras, LIDAR sensors and GPS modules is a great application for 3D printing.

6. Antenna Mounts: Communication and navigations systems can be improved with 3D printing. Custom designed antenna mounts help to improve signal transmission and reception.

7. Design Validation: 3D printing is very useful for design validation of drones. Quick 3D prints mean more number of iterations. More number of iterations means better tested and reliable designs. This helps in improving integrity of design. Also the rapid pace of prototyping reduces time to market.

8. Ducted Fans: Intricate duct fan designs can be achieved quickly with 3D printing.

9. Swarm Drones: Repetitive identical parts are needed to create swarm drones. 3D printing ensures consistency in design and performance.

10. Environmental monitoring: Environmental monitoring drones may need specialised sample collection devices. 3D printing helps to reach this goal in a very short time.

11. Agriculture: Agricultural drones need specialized nozzles, sprays and payload mounts. Additive manufacturing is the ideal method to get them done fast.

12. Search and rescue: Search and rescue drones very often need custom equipment. Each scenario may need customization. 3D printing is the best way for getting customized parts made in the shortest possible time.

13. Racing drones: Competitive racing needs unique frame designs and components. 3D printing provides rapid customization to meet the needs of individual pilots.

14. Delivery Drones: Custom payload integration solutions can be implemented with 3D printing.

15. Surveillance drones: Key parameter for surveillance drones is flying time. Weight reduction is the best way to improve flying time. Custom designed 3D printed plastic parts help in weight reduction.

Part strength, weight, durability and aerodynamic designs help designers to achieve effective drone designs. 3D printing is a very efficient way to manufacture complex parts, in order to achieve all these parameters.

Stratnel supports several drone customers. We print complex parts in engineering plastics, provide fast turn arounds and assure consistency over large volumes.  Check out our capabilities. Get in touch with us today!

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