Zortrax-logoWhen one considers the fumbling and chaos that ensued as Amelia Earhart’s plane lost contact over the South Pacific, leaving the world to radio silence and heartbroken speculation, it’s interesting to ponder a modern-day scenario featuring 3D printed drones which would lessen one’s chances of dying as a castaway. If you live in a coastal location, you probably read the weekly headlines regarding mishaps at sea, as well as men gone overboard — with some outcomes better than others.

If we can track a missing smartphone to a location virtually anywhere, it would make sense that we might figure out how to find missing people more easily as they are separated from boats and planes, although the idea of being equipped with a GPS device is not something any of us want for ourselves as independent adults always hoping to avoid the Big Brother scenario.

The idea of drones that would be alerted to individuals who fell overboard or were stranded on an island or floating object, working in tandem with rescue teams, sounds like something quite worth drones in tentlooking into for the long run, as I am sure anyone who was sun blistered and stranded at sea for 97 days would agree to.

In a project regarding drones that are more of a friendly nature than the cold steel military variety, Zortrax has come onto the scene collaborating with Polish team AeroAtena and their Robolifeguard project, which served as a finalist in the ‘Drones for Good’ competition sponsored in the United Arab Emirates. The idea for those who entered the contest was to come up with more common, civilian uses for drones.

“We began as a tech startup, so we want to continue to support similar initiatives. We accepted the proposal by AeroAtena right away because this was a unique opportunity [to] participate in a fascinating project that explored new, life-saving applications for both drones and 3D printing,” said Karolina Bołądź, Zortrax’s COO. “Not only did we prepare the print itself, but we also provided the help of our designers in the model’s processing.”

AeroAtena, made up of Tomasz Muszyński, Ilona Muszyńska, Kaja Muszyńska, Andrzej Majka, Rafał Nowak, and Karol Borys, invited Zortrax to help them with the 3D printing of their lifeguarding drone, meant to land on water in the vicinity of those thrown overboard, offering them a buoyant item to grasp onto while also allowing constant contact with rescue teams until their arrival.

watchAfter coming on board to the project, Zortrax helped redesign the 3D printed drone and then made the prototype using their Zortrax M200 printer with both deformation-resistant Z-ULTRAT material and the translucent Z-GLASS material. While not the winner, the team was greatly encouraged to make the semifinals and plans to continue to develop the 3D printed lifesaver which could not only help the Coast Guard and other rescue services, but has the potential to make big news one day upon saving individuals from perishing at sea after a marine accident.

What do you think about the potential for this 3D printed drone lifeguard device? How do you think it could be turned into a reality across the board for identifying and saving those who have fallen overboard or been stranded? Can a 3D printed item hold up to the elements? Tell us your thoughts in the Zortrax 3D Prints Drone to Save Castaways forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

Zortrax, based in Poland, has won multiple awards for their efforts as 3D printer manufacturers, offering a streamlined, quality product for designers and engineers. Their 3D printers also feature a very pleasing design aesthetically. The company, receiving its initial boost from Kickstarter, also opened the first retail 3D printing store in Kraków, Poland.

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