Windform® 3D Printing materials, which were originally developed for the motorsports industry, are now finding a diverse range of uses outside the race track, e.g. UAS field.

The object of this chapter illustrates the manufacture of an unmanned aerial system using Laser Sintering technology and Windform composite materials (Photo A).

The project has involved two companies: CRP Technology and Hexadrone. The aim is the construction of Hexadrone’s first fully modular and easy-to-use drone for industrial and multi-purpose tasks, made for extreme weather conditions thanks to rugged, waterproof design.

The rapidly swappable arms and three quick release attachments make the Tundra-M extremely flexible to meet the needs of any profession, while making operational conditions easier to maintain.

The Tundra-M is conceived around a multifunction perspective. The Tundra-M can rely on its four quick connect arms as well as its three accessory connections to turn into a formidably effective and very pliable work tool. This makes the Tundra-M suitable for plenty of different flight scenarios as well as plenty of professional uses.

The body as well as the main parts have been conceived with the composite polyamide based material carbon filled Windform® SP and Windform® XT 2.0. Those two materials are shaped into pieces using the selective laser sintering 3D printing technology.

The four arms supporting the body frame of the Tundra were 3D printed using Windform® XT 2.0 composite material.

The rest of the components were developed with the Windform® SP composite material.

The collaboration

Understanding the limitations with traditional manufacturing technologies, the opportunity to develop a unique drone based on the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies was identified. Additive Manufacturing technologies in UAS applications has presented both opportunity and challenges to engineers in the field. The ability to produce parts and components using Additive Manufacturing technologies hold promise in both metals and plastics, whereas, traditional Subtractive Manufacturing technologies can be restrictive in design development and material selection.

Hexadrone has requested CRP to devise the functional prototype of the Tundra-M, Hexadrone’s very first mass-produced drone.

Hexadrone CEO Alexandre Labesse commented, “We have engineered our drone by means of a cautious, multifaceted, and collaborative based approach with the involvement of broad-based stakeholders.

In the course of two years of consulting, research and development we have gathered all the advice and customers’ testimonials useful to its design and which finally helped us in the process of devising an ideal UAV solution”.

Additive Manufacturing technology is often faster than designing and producing a tool for traditional manufacturing technologies. Furthermore, 3D printing has given engineers more flexibility in the timeline to make design improvements and being able to think outside of limitations caused by traditional tooling. This choice made it possible to substantially reduce the costs and has been very convenient in terms of timing when compared to traditional production methods. The unique properties of AM Windform® XT 2.0 and Windform® SP composite materials have allowed system optimization that successfully withstands the design requirements due to space limitations and the extreme conditions during flights.

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