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3D-Printed UAV Can Go From Atoms to Airborne in 24 Hours

timothy posted about 4 months ago | from the concept-and-model-in-one dept.

Technology 77

Zothecula (1870348) writes "Because 3D printing allows one-off items to be created quickly and cheaply, it should come as no surprise that the technology has already been used to produce unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs. Engineers at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC), however, have taken things a step farther. They've made a 3D-printed UAV airframe that's designed to minimize the amount of material needed in its construction, and that can be printed and in the air within a single day."

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77 comments

Mars Trilogy future comes closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46679977)

Where only the basic 3D building machines are shipped off to Mars and they build everything else required using local resources.

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680073)

There you go. Elon Musk's Mars condo will have nothing but a 3D printer in the living room. Press a button, atoms to UAV!!! Wow! It's the future! We can make blobs of plastic that go on top of stuff made in a factory! Oh joy oh glory! The species is getting of this rock!!!

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (1)

mikael (484) | about 4 months ago | (#46680465)

Then the next challenge is to make a 3D printer that can print out the parts to make a 3D printer, but make sure there's no auto button.

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681037)

Not sure if trolling or never heard about RepRap.

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 4 months ago | (#46682315)

AFAICT, RepRap cannot print itself. It still needs external components like wires, printed-circuit-board, etc.

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680531)

Click the heels of the silver shoes together three times and say "Take me home to Aunt Em."

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680649)

They call him Captain Future, a visionary man
Travelling through the galaxy and since time began
There are men like Captain Future, dedicated and strong
Who'll lead us to new frontiers, who'll right the wrongs

Captain Future!

Lead us in our fight

Captain Future!

Make our future bright

Captain Future!

Cause you're the man you are, you'll lead us till we find our shining star

Captain Future!
Captain Future!
Captain Future!
Captain Future!

Re:Mars Trilogy future comes closer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46681009)

Mark Mercury rocks!

so what.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46679985)

airframes are trivial. When they can print a motor and power supply, then maybe they'll have something

Re:so what.... (1, Informative)

pepty (1976012) | about 4 months ago | (#46680271)

airframes are trivial. When they can print a motor and power supply, then maybe they'll have something

They can print copper and silver wire, as well as strontium ferrite magnets. Switching from a linear motor (the 3D printed speaker below) to a rotary motor wouldn't be difficult.

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/12/fully-functional-loudspeaker-3-d-printed

A PSU ... capacitors, resistors, semiconductors, induction coils, and transistors can all be printed. How good a motor and a PSU you can print and how many different printers it would take to make all of the components are other questions.

Re:so what.... (3, Informative)

Bartles (1198017) | about 4 months ago | (#46680407)

Or you can just use copper or silver wire, without having to wait for a machine that can print it. 3d printers are cool, but let's not put them on a pedestal.

Re:so what.... (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681045)

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a 3D-printed hammer, to treat everything as if it were a 3D-printed nail.

Re:so what.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680551)

You're delusional. You have no idea if that speaker's performance even comes close to the performance of a dollar store speaker, how much it cost, how long it took to print and what its useful lifespan is.

And if it takes a specially prepared slurry (presumably made in an old Luddite factory, eh?) to make the magnet, doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose of 3D printing?

But let's not let that little detail get in the way of a good 3D auto-fellation,eh?

And do you think rare-earth magnets just go full strength magically? How do you print something with such a powerful field when there's all this "3D printer" stuff (made of metal I guess) moving around? Hmm?

Oh wait, rare-earth magnets need to be activated! But hey, that little detail is glossed over and let's just ignore that little bump in the road!

Let's look at how the Luddites do it:

https://www.kjmagnetics.com/bl... [kjmagnetics.com]

Oh, "They are placed in a fixture that will expose the magnet to a very strong magnetic field for a brief moment. It's basically a big coil of wire surrounding the magnet(s). The magnetizing equipment uses banks of capacitors and a really huge voltage to get such a strong current for a brief instant."

But 3D printing is magic, I guess we can skip such inconvenient things. Maybe you can 3D print a neutron star and use its magnetic field and then put the neutron star in a 3D unprinter when we're done with it?

And printing transistors? That's so far away from anything that's even remotely possible, I'm speechless.

Do you have any inkling of a clue of the material purity required and cleanliness and precision required? Jesus Christ!

Check it out, someone buys a power transistor from Digi-Key, and a stepper motor places it on a blob of plastic. That's all it takes for you nutcases to run around thinking it's a revolution.

This is nuts. Uncritical, unthinking 3D cheer-leading.

Re:so what.... (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 4 months ago | (#46687559)

You're delusional. You have no idea if that speaker's performance even comes close to the performance of a dollar store speaker, how much it cost, how long it took to print and what its useful lifespan is.

More like you're too lazy to read to the end of a comment:

How good a motor and a PSU you can print and how many different printers it would take to make all of the components are other questions.

I have no problems discerning between a proof of concept and a viable commercial device/ viable commercial process. If you wanted to specify the latter, you should have done so in your posed challenge instead of getting snippy later on.

And printing transistors? That's so far away from anything that's even remotely possible, I'm speechless.

You don't get out much, do you?

Fully Printed, High Performance Carbon Nanotube Thin-Film Transistors on Flexible Substrates

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl401934a

Lucent started printing transistors in the '90s. PARC and their partners are developing printed memory, transistors, and sensors as commercial products.

Do you have any inkling of a clue of the material purity required and cleanliness and precision required? Jesus Christ!

Yes I do: very litte. A transistor is DIY at home if you are making them big and primitive, which is sufficient to answer the question you asked. You don't have to make a CPU or mosfets by the truckload to make a single power supply.

Re:so what.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46689807)

Jesus Christ, we're talking about a UAV, which requires POWER TRANSISTORS. I *KNOW* they "print" small-signal transistors for LCD panels, etc. And you idiots have no problem whatsoever calling that decades-old process "3D printing" when it suits you. But it's not.

" A transistor is DIY at home if you are making them big and primitive"

Oh for fuck's sake... even the people who do make some sort of point contact monstrosity are just re-creating half century old stuff. This isn't the second coming of Christ as you picture it to be.

Re:so what.... (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#46680971)

They can print copper

from the article;

For the conductor, Kiran used a silver ink. For the magnet, he employed the help of Samanvaya Srivastava, graduate student in chemical and biomolecular engineering, to come up with a viscous blend of strontium ferrite.

I see no mention of copper.

Switching from a linear motor (the 3D printed speaker below) to a rotary motor wouldn't be difficult.

I live statements like this; "since we can do A we can do B because they use a similar principle". A linear motor and a radial motor are drastically different. A linear motor is a magnet inside a coil. A few wraps of conductor will do for the coil. For a radial motor you need many more fine conductors wrapped close together to work. Then there is the issue of bearings which have to be smooth enough to handle a few hundred RPM for a significant period of time. A speaker has one moving part suspended by the cone. The tolerances alone make radial motors much more complex than linear motors. A radial motor coil is much harder to print than a speaker.

Re:so what.... (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 4 months ago | (#46687885)

The posed challenge was "When they can print a motor and power supply", not "when will it make sense to print a motor and power supply". In this case, if you can make a proof of principle speaker, you can make a proof of principle radial motor, neither of which will probably be very practical. One coil, no bearings is enough to make it spin (til the plastic bits melt/wear out).

Re:so what.... (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#46688009)

In this case, if you can make a proof of principle speaker, you can make a proof of principle radial motor,

That is a huge leap and a big assumption with no basis in fact. The coil in a linear motor is very different than a coil in a radial motor. The point is that no one has made a 3D printed radial motor. There is a reason for that.

Re:so what.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46690513)

All it will prove is the principle that autistic OCD nerds with far too much time on their hands can make barely functional poor copies of old technologies at several orders of magnitude higher cost and complexity. Congratulations, your future sucks.

Re:so what.... (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 4 months ago | (#46685577)

Heck, if they could print a working rotor I would be very impressed.

atoms to air (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46679989)

well, not really atoms, but filament on a spool

oh yeah, and some motors, and a controller...and an and sensors

and yes, right a battery.

and maybe some connectors..and some fasteners

Re:atoms to air (1)

QQBoss (2527196) | about 4 months ago | (#46680091)

I didn't read the story or watch any videos or anything, but maybe they 3D printed the spool of filament they used before they turned around and made the plane.

Ok, maybe not.

Hmmm, a 3D printer that can spray out lithium... that could be a LOT of fun!

Re:atoms to air (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#46681369)

Hmmm, a 3D printer that can spray out lithium... that could be a LOT of fun!

Lithium? I think I'd just feel ambivalent about it.

Quick!! (0, Troll)

bradgoodman (964302) | about 4 months ago | (#46679995)

Quick!!! A 3D printer can print something! This is newsworthy fodder for Slashdot!!

Re:Quick!! (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 months ago | (#46680089)

Quick!!! A 3D printer can print something! This is newsworthy fodder for Slashdot!!

And naturally the thing being created is currently very "sexy" in the tech world - a UAV! Why, the uses are unlimited! Amazon can deliver products to the products (you and I), and, and, and...

I think there are many great possibilities for 3D printing beyond the UAV / plastic gun craze, though.

Re:Quick!! (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#46682407)

I think there are many great possibilities for 3D printing beyond the UAV / plastic gun craze, though.

You are on to something. A 3D printed aerial assault vehicle with 3D printed armaments! All printed in 23 hours!

Re:Quick!! (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 4 months ago | (#46683391)

do you really think we are the "products" for amazon? I always felt like a customer. I'm giving them cash, and they're not making money from advertising. Not like goog and fb.

Re:Quick!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46683815)

You are an idiot. Continue fucking yourself.

Re:Quick!! (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 4 months ago | (#46680517)

Buy your 3D-printed drone NOW using Bitcoin!

This is what has become of Slashdot.

Re:Quick!! (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681053)

Buy your 3D-printed drone using Bitcoin and control it with this new open-source Android app via a wi-fi connected Arduino to spy on your Facebook friends while wearing a tin hat to prevent Google from making you buy the latest teen pop album sold on iTunes.

Re:Quick!! (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#46682381)

Quick!!! A 3D printer can print something! This is newsworthy fodder for Slashdot!!

And call it what it is. In this case, a glider.

Enough (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680015)

Enough with these "3d printer miracle stories". They arent printing a UAV. They are printing some wings and a fuselage. You still need an engine, control electronics, etc.

Re:Enough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680031)

Seriously. The 3D cock lost its erection months ago. It seems it's still being sucked by many geeks who can't come to grips with the fact they've been duped.

Re:Enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46681475)

Seriously. The [3D, Bitcoin, space elevator, Tesla, open source smartphone, smartwatch, Duke Nukem Forever] cock lost its erection months ago. It seems it's still being sucked by many geeks who can't come to grips with the fact they've been duped.

Re:Enough (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 4 months ago | (#46682713)

"Need more vespene gas!"

Wouldn't you know it!? Rookie mistake!

3D print me a titan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680027)

Waiting to incorporate Hammond Robotics..

well, it's a start, anyway (0)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 4 months ago | (#46680029)

what if the engine was printed first? "they still need wings and a fuselage..."

24 hours compared to what? (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46680047)

Injection moulded UAV airframe produced in.... minutes?

The images look pretty poor quality, you can tell by the reflections that the wing shape is bumpy. I guess that's what happens when you 3D print without support material, bits sag while they cool down.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680105)

Hell, I can cut 95% of it out of foam board in 10 minute with a hot wire.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680137)

But that's because you're a Luddite. All your old technology failed to materialize the Singularity(tm). *THIS* time we've figured it out! Behold! The plastic blob!

Pack your bags Lucille, we're going to Mars!

Re:24 hours compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680225)

Hell, I can cut 95% of it out of foam board in 10 minute with a hot wire.

I boinked yo mom with this hot cock!

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

Arkh89 (2870391) | about 4 months ago | (#46680369)

Ha! I can just bend a piece of paper in matter of seconds...
This guys are jokes! /sarcasm

Re:24 hours compared to what? (5, Funny)

InsultsByThePound (3603437) | about 4 months ago | (#46680601)

Oh, look at Mr. Subtractive here! I guess we Additives are just way too Positive for you, negative nancy! I'm so sorry we try to build up the world while you like to hack it down to size.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681055)

Funniest CNC mills-vs-3D printers comment I've seen so far. Too bad I'm out of mod points.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

MiKM (752717) | about 4 months ago | (#46680253)

Injection moulded UAV airframe produced in.... minutes?

Out of curiosity, how long would it take to create the mold?

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 4 months ago | (#46680403)

How long did it take to create the 3D model?

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46680417)

I assume you could machine it out of a big block of metal.
A quick google suggests a few weeks to a few months to design and manufacture them depending on complexity and quality.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (3)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46680433)

.... and a mold would cost $10k - $100k.
and the 3D printer these guys used costs $400,000. It aint your average makerbot.

Strayed from the original idea (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | about 4 months ago | (#46681353)

3D printers were originally intended for creating moulds. 3D print the object and do simple sand-casting. Don't need a $400 000 3D printer.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680559)

I'll say it again, I don't own a 3D-printer but from what I have read and seen from behind the scenes video/stories it is unreliable. How many time did they have to re-start to process!! The printers lock up, or the process is flawed by something, as you print out the object.

I think as chips and the software and materials improve it has all the potential, and the more things that are publicized about what it these printers are capable of, that improvement will come as a faster rate.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 4 months ago | (#46682179)

Injection moulded UAV airframe produced in.... minutes?

How many minutes and $$$ to produce the mold? It's pretty clear that 3d printing is a poor substitute for bulk production processes. It is however a viable option in case you want to quickly produce a single instance of an item (prototyping, or locations where shipping or stocking items is too slow or too expensive). It's also a good option to produce small runs of complex items. One of my clients started using a (industrial-quality) 3d printer to produce highly complex manifolds for pumps. They had trouble producing that design using injection molding, casting or milling, and they are now using the 3d printer for production runs.

Re:24 hours compared to what? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46688487)

It looks like these guys aren't printing anything complex. They're printing something large.
It takes them 24 hours to print the UAV frame on a half-million dollar 3D printer. Apparently with all the support material they took away it used to take 120 hours.

They've taken a very large, expensive hammer and pounded a square peg into a round hole.
Injection molding is probably also not a good fit for this particular application. They should have spent the 120 hours 3D printing a mold for vacuum forming and made the UAV out of polycarbonate. Perhaps even carving the mold out of wood.

Knock it off with the word inflation! (4, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about 4 months ago | (#46680061)

A remote controlled airplane is not a UAV. A remote controlled multi-rotor is not a drone.

Re:Knock it off with the word inflation! (1)

TheRealQuestor (1750940) | about 4 months ago | (#46680149)

A remote controlled airplane is not a UAV. A remote controlled multi-rotor is not a drone.

technically it is. Anything that flies without a pilot is an Unmanned Arial Vehicle. Be it a fixed wing or helicopter or multi-rotor

That said to it always ticks me off when somebody calls my quads or hexes drones. They are NOT drones. Drones [in my mind anyway] are killing/spying machines used by the military. Mine are Multi-Rotors. Hobby level flying bricks that just happen to have cameras on them. And not for spying. So I can watch my flights and see what I did wrong.

Re:Knock it off with the word inflation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680175)

Don't you mean Unmanned Arial VFont?

Re:Knock it off with the word inflation! (1)

Zembar (803935) | about 4 months ago | (#46682321)

technically it is. Anything that flies without a pilot is an Unmanned Arial Vehicle. Be it a fixed wing or helicopter or multi-rotor .

Not completely true though. To count as a vehicle it has to transport something, if we're picking at words.

Re:Knock it off with the word inflation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46684573)

Anything that flies without a pilot is an Unmanned Arial Vehicle. Be it a fixed wing or helicopter or multi-rotor

or paper airplane?

Can anyone see how this thing thrusts? (1)

ReekRend (843787) | about 4 months ago | (#46680097)

I don't see any openings in the body and no propellers or bumps on it in the video; obviously they added stuff inside - but what?? (The see-through drawing in the video shows nothing?!) I think the real story here is how this thing is magically flying. ;)

Re:Can anyone see how this thing thrusts? (1)

bluescrn (2120492) | about 4 months ago | (#46682799)

This 'flying wing' design is fairly popular with RC aircraft hobbyists. They generally use a pusher propeller on the back, and large control surfaces on each wing known as elevons (combined elevator + ailerons).

Why do engineers keep working with... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680223)

Republicans to build these horrific things? We are just as guilty as them as long as we continue to help them.

Really good idea (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680227)

UAVs are much more sensitive to things like weight than they are to the cost of materials, and they're already a pain to put together. I can see this being an excellent use of 3D printers with people able to try all sorts of tweaks.

Re:Really good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680297)

There are already countless suppliers selling an almost unlimited amount of tweaks.

Re:Really good idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680493)

I can build a 1.45m delta wing out of correx/corflute that weighs about 300g with all the electronics on board - I have to add dead weight to it (ballast) to get it up to a 600g flying weight. Shieffields' ABS monstrosity weighs in 2kg - no wonder it flies like a bucket of shit.

Re:Really good idea (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681059)

If you think it flies like a bucket of shit, wait until you see its crappy landings.

Other way around (2)

Dan East (318230) | about 4 months ago | (#46680287)

3D-Printed UAV Can Go From Atoms to Airborne in 24 Hours

And even more impressively, it can go from Airborne to Atoms in only 2 seconds.

Other way aground (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 4 months ago | (#46680371)

3D-Printed UAV Can Go From Atoms to Airborne in 24 Hours

And even more impressively, it can go from Airborne to Atoms in only 2 seconds.

That's nothing. See this rock here? ::woosh:: Now it's airborne. Took less than a second.

Ah, it's coming back down. Check this out: Feel how the rock is being pulled down to the ground? No matter how long you hold it, it will keep applying that downward force. Infinite energy.

Look around. Notice anything? Yep, not a single tiger in sight. Repels them.

Re:Other way aground (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681065)

Look down, back up, where are you? You're on a boat.

Anyone can do this at home (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680331)

Anyone can do this at home with your $400k Stratasys Fortus 900mc printer.

you can make a quad copter in less time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680483)

with less materials

how is this better than carving out of styrofoam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46680567)

With a template, printed on a conventional printer, one could probably carve a decent UAV airframe (e.g. Parrot AR) out of a block of foam in substantially less than an hour.

Airborne 3D printer (1)

yo303 (558777) | about 4 months ago | (#46680623)

That's what I am waiting for.

Printed circuits... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 4 months ago | (#46680701)

I'd like to see them print the electronics.

Re:Printed circuits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46682325)

Here's how the Luddites do it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

It's a bit slow to start because they're calibrating it.

Or 1h.. (1)

kangsterizer (1698322) | about 4 months ago | (#46680853)

In other news, a non-3D printed equivalent UAV can be made from zero to flying in about 1H... and has been so for years.
It will also probably fly better.. all you need is a block of EPP foam and a hot wire (the cut itself takes 5min, full build about 1H)

so yeah.. it says 3D printer QUICK it must be worth some ads-prints publish!

Obvious? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#46681071)

The following "news" was brought to you by Stratasys.

Sensationalist title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46682767)

Last I checked, 3d printers weren't printing atom at a time.

Barcelona 3d printed UAV wing flight test (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46750899)

Hi,
Last 2 weeks I have been designing a 3D printed UAV wing. Teatures: 1500mm wingspan, 200mm root chord and taper, twist, dihedral and winglet.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0PPz42_MS0

And the total wing weight is over 350 gr. PLA material.

What is your wing features and weight?

Thank you

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