A few weeks ago the internet was buzzing about a new 3D printed aerial drone created by British researchers. Just after the drone was shown to the world, we all got word that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 had gone missing somewhere off the coast of Asia, with 239 people on board. Fast forward 16 days, and the plane still has not been found. The likely scenario is that it crashed somewhere over the Gulf of Thailand or South China Sea, but any number of less likely possibilities may have also taken place.
British researchers at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Sheffield, who created the 3d printed unmanned aerial vehicle, claim that such a drone could be used for emergency search operations such as that of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Researcher, Mark Cocking stated, ‘With the recent aircraft that’s been lost at sea, if you had a fleet of these you could send them out [looking for the aircraft or debris] in 24 hours.”
The researchers were able to print the drone with ABS plastics, saving a tremendous amount of time and effort over traditional manufacturing methods. They, of course, don’t have dozens of these printed out ready to participate in a search mission, however the difficulty in finding the lost Malaysian aircraft certainly should prioritize this technology for similar future operations.
The drone, which was 3d printed , weighs just 2kg, is approximately 1.5 meters in width, and was printed out on a Stratasys Fortus 900mc FDM printer. There is still a lot of work to be done before this drone or ones similar could function as a search aircraft, but the team is making substantial progress each day. Discuss the possible uses of 3D printed drones in search operations at 3dprintboard. Check out a test flight of this drone as a glider, without a propulsion system below:
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