This 3D-printed drone can reach speeds of 150 mph

This week at the Dubai Airshow, spectators got a glimpse of a 3D-printed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of achieving speeds of 150 mph.

The drone is the result of a collaboration between 3D printing company Stratasys and Aurora Flight Sciences and according to creators is the “the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed unmanned aerial vehicle ever produced.”

(Image Credit: Stratysys)
(Image Credit: Stratysys)

The drone, weighs about 33 lbs., has a wingspan of 9 ft., and 80% of its body is comprised of 3D printed parts.

“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 jetpowered aircraft. To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed UAV ever produced,” said Dan Campbell, Aerospace Research Engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences.

“This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace,” said 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.”

Aurora chose to team up with Stratasys to build the UAV as a means of creating a super-efficient lightweight structure without the common restrictions of traditional manufacturing methods.

Doing so enabled the cost-effective development of a customized – or mission-specific vehicle – without the cost constraints of low-volume production. By employing 3D printing, design and build time was reduced by 50%.

“Stratasys 3D printing technology easily supports rapid design iterations that led to a dramatically shortened timeline from the initial concept to the first successful flight,” said Campbell.

Lightweight vehicles also use less fuel which saves on operations costs and reduces damage to the environment.

To watch the UAV in action see video below.

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