Its makers claim that the drone is the first jet-powered UAV in the world, and it can reach speeds of over 150 miles per hour.
The drone was shown off at the Dubai Airshow on Monday and is the most complex UAV of its kind according to Stratasys, which worked on the drone in conjunction with Aurora Flight Sciences. Over 80% of the drone is made from 3D-printed materials, writes Jenny Cosgrave for CNBC.
3D-printed drone becomes fastest in the world
The 15 kilogram drone is made from metal, nylon and a UV-resistant thermoplastic, and boasts a wingspan of 3 meters. 3D-printing firm Stratasys hopes to prove to the airline industry that its methods are ultimately better than traditional manufacturing processes.
“This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace,” Stratasys’ Aerospace & Defense business Development Manager, Scott Sevcik, told CNBC at the airshow. “Overall, the technology saw us cut the design and build time of the aircraft by 50 percent,” he said.
According to analysis firm Canalys, the global market for 3D printers, associated materials and services is predicted to reach $5.2 billion in 2015, up from $3.3 billion last year. By 2019 it is expected that the market will be worth $20.2 billion.
Increasing interest in 3D-printed components in industry
The unveiling of the drone was not the only good news for Stratasys this year. French plane-manufacturer Airbus used the company’s 3D printing system to make over 1,000 parts for its A450 XWB aircraft. According to Airbus the printed material is flame, smoke and toxicity compliant, while the parts “substantially reduce production time and manufacturing costs.”
United Launch Alliance, a rocket manufacturer, also announced plans to use 3D printed components. “Whether by air, water, or on land, lightweight vehicles use less fuel. This enables companies to lower operational costs, as well as reduce environmental impact,” Sevcik said.
While 3D printing has not revolutionized manufacturing to the extent that some commentators predicted that it would, it has still had major benefits for many sectors. As more companies begin to see the benefits of the technology, its influence should continue to increase.
As demonstrated by Stratasys, 3D printed materials are safe for use in demanding situations and it is surely only a matter of time before more components are 3D-printed.