3D-Printed Jet-Powered Drone Takes To The Skies At A Whopping 150 MPH


A 3D-printed drone just might be the fastest UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) in the world. Its jet engine and lightweight build enables the drone to reach speeds of up to 150 mph.

The ultrafast, ultralight drone was shown off at the Dubai Air Show, which wil run until Nov. 12.

The drone is essentially a tech demo built to show off the progress that's being made in the UAV and 3D printing sectors.

On one side of this union of emerging technologies is Virginia-based UAV developer and manufacturer Aurora Flight Sciences. And supporting the other side of this marriage is Stratasys, a Minnesota-based firm that specializes in 3D printing.

One of the primary goals of the two companies was proving to the aerospace industry just how fast a drone can go from a concept to reality, according to Dan Campbell, aerospace research engineer at Aurora Flight Sciences.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest, fastest, and most complex 3D printed UAV ever produced," Campbell said.

About 80 percent of the drone's parts were spit out of 3D printers. And it was the additive manufacturing process that sliced design and build time in half.

"Stratasys 3D printing technology easily supports rapid design iterations that led to a dramatically shortened timeline from the initial concept to the first successful flight," Campbell said. "Overall, the technology saw us cut the design and build time of the aircraft by 50 percent."

The final product, the one shown off at the airshow, has a nine-foot wingspan and weighs 33 pounds. It's composed of Stratasys' ULTEM 9085 lightweight material and designed with Aurora Aerospace Science's expertise in UAVs.

The jet-powered drone is a "perfect demonstration" of additive manufacturer's unique power and potential, stated Scott Sevcik, Aerospace & Defense senior business development manager, Vertical Solutions at Stratasys.

"This meant using different 3D printing materials and technologies together on one aircraft to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing, and 3D print both lightweight and capable structural components," Sevcik said.

To get more backstory from the mouths of the horses themselves, check out the video below. 

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