Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Generative Design Team at Helyx 3D Prints Lightweight Racing Quadcopter

ST Medical Devices

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The team at Helyx, headquartered in Italy, is exploring the limits of generative design with their 3D printed drone, a lightweight racing quadcopter created for agility and speed, and the ability to travel in freestyle flight. A pilot project built around the study and use of 3D design and 3D printing in relation to UAVs, Helyx has been centered around creating a new First-Person View (FPV) drone and putting it into action.

The monocoque skeleton form is meant to ‘follow force,’ and not only balances stress while in flight but also helps prevent structural weakness overall and protects integrated electronics. Due to the many benefits of 3D printing, the Helyx designers had unprecedented freedom in creating this unconventional drone, stating that ‘architectural elements are optimized and merged in a fluid composition which conceals function with beauty.’ Their goal as a team was also to use innovative 3D development and more in exploring artificial intelligence (AI), cloud-based computing, inspired by nature and its ‘evolutionary approach’ overall.

The chassis for the drone was designed in Autodesk Generative Design Beta, which was later integrated into Fusion 360, with resulting dimensions of 20 x 20 x 10 cm, a total weight of 87.5g, and ultimately a flying recorded top speed of 208km/h. Fabricated using PA 11, and 3D printed with HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology—with the goal of pushing generative design to the limit—the drone is meant to:

  • Reduce air resistance
  • Handle extreme accelerations
  • Survive crashes

 “Although it can be virtually printed with any powder-bed AM technology, we chose HP for the right balance of cost and strength,” Tommaso Pardini, Project Manager and Principle Designer of Helyx, told 3DPrint.com. “PA11 is also a particularly suitable material as it can withstand impacts (which are pretty common while flying with FPV drones).”

Presented at Formnext last year with Autodesk and HP, the drone is now being produced for clients on an on-demand basis. If you are interested, contact [email protected]

3D printing and electronics accompany one another in many different forms today, offering scientists, engineers, and users on so many levels incredible opportunity to create new prototypes, parts, and entire systems that may not have been possible previously through conventional methods. Offering benefits such as greater affordability, speed in production, and the ability to create at will (and often, whim) without having to wait for a middleman, 3D printing means that users now have freedom never before experienced in manufacturing.

Many drone enthusiasts—from around the globe—are also interested in trying their hand at 3D printing (along with other related new technologies), resulting in numerous projects, from drones created to help save crops, to those affixed to robotic components for fixing asphalt, to drones that could be responsible for autonomous surveying activity.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Helyx]

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