AMS Spring 2023

Adafruit 3D Prints an Awesome Detachable Drone Trophy for Their Upcoming Dronie Film Festival

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If it wasn’t for 3D printing I would likely tell you that the rapid development of drones may be the most transformative technology of our generation. Promising to change the way packages are delivered, surveillance is conducted, and important data is collected over the next decade, drones will gradually play an expanding role in each of our lives.

If you follow our publication, than you likely are aware that there is a lot of overlap between 3D printing and drone technologies. We have covered numerous 3D printed drones over the last year, all of which are quite amazing, and as 3D printing technology continues to develop we will continue to see an expanding overlap among both technologies.  d14

Adafruit, the DIY electronics hub of the internet, has realized these same trends and thus they will launch the first annual Dronie Film Festival. In what Noe Ruiz, a Designer for Adafruit, believes will be the best online film contest for drones, and be a major part of the Dronies Festival, Adafruit had to of course make the coolest possible trophy for the winner.

“A 3D printed Drone Trophy using copperFill,” explained Noe Ruiz to 3DPrint.com. “Adafruit is hosting an online film festival for Drone photography and videography. Our 3D printed trophy will be awarded to the lucky winner of the Drone contest.”

d1To do this they of course turned to 3D printing, as the technology enables rapid design fabrication and the ability to test various iterations on the fly. The design for the trophy was the brainchild of Adafruit’s Creative Director, Bruce Yan, and I have to say, it’s really quite impressive.

The trophy, which depicts a gumdrop looking drone character sitting on top of a pedestal, features four movable propellers. Ruiz took this design and imported it into CAD. He had to break all the components into separate pieces because once printed with ColorFabb’s bronzeFill, he wanted to polish them up in a rotary tumbler. For those not familiar with 3D printer filaments such as bronzeFill and copperFill, they are PLA/metal composites which take on a very metallic look and feel once printed and polished up.

The trophy was printed at 100 microns on a Type A 3D printer at 40mm/sec to help retain the surface quality. This is important when working with metal composite filaments, especially when you intend to polish them later, as a smoother surface finish is required. Once printed it was then time to throw the parts into the rotary tumbler to get them nice and polished. Ruiz used d13several different sizes of stainless steel screws as the medium in the tumbler. After 1-2 hours he removed the parts to find them possessing a very smooth and shiny surface finish, just like you would expect to find from metal objects.

Ruiz then printed some smaller components on the new Autodesk Ember SLA printer and assembled the trophy using e6000 glue as the bonding agent. As an added touch, he skipped the glue between the trophy pedestal and the drone character, instead opting for magnets so that the drone can actually be removed from the base of the trophy if desired.

Overall the trophy turned out quite nicely, appearing as if it cast from solid bronze. If you’d like a chance to win this incredible trophy then simply make something awesome that has to do with drones, and tweet a picture of it with hashtag #dronie. Additional details about the film festival and the award will be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead, according to Adafruit.

Let us know if you intend to enter this contest. Discuss in the 3D printed Dronie Award forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video for this project below:

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