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3D Printed Drones Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

Flight is no stranger to 3D printing. 3D printing may be an excellent technique for creating numerous parts for recreational drones.

3D Printed Drones

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), sometimes known as drones, are vehicles that can operate autonomously. A drone does not have to be an airplane; it may be a car, a boat, or even a hovercraft. However, the phrase has evolved to refer to any plane equipped with three or more rotors that give lift and propulsion. Multirotor and quadcopters are other names for them.

UAVs are generally mechanically essential, comprising of a frame, a flight controller, motors, propellers, speed controllers, and optionally first-person view (FPV) equipment. Flight is no stranger to 3D printing. 3D printing may be an excellent technique for creating numerous parts for recreational drones. These might range from protective bumpers and camera mounts to valuable add-ons.

Benefits

The real benefit of 3D printing components is that they can be built to order. Furthermore, they are often affordable and can develop designs fast from the source to the final form.

Printed pieces can be customized in terms of color and substance. This allows them to select the material with the optimum mechanical qualities for the job. For instance, a blue TPU GoPro mount and nylon propeller shields might be used.

An additional advantage of employing 3D manufactured parts is their low density. With 3D printing, factors such as the number of perimeters and the insertion % may be altered to dramatically reduce weight, with the former having a more significant overall influence.
Parts may be iterated fast and are bespoke and lightweight. When creating a canopy, for example, a first version may be printed (likely in a low-cost material like PLA). Then, any necessary adjustments can be quickly applied in the following iteration. Finally, when the model is complete, it may be generated in a more expensive material like carbon-fiber nylon or, if money may not be a concern, carbon-fiber PEEK.

Considerations

Even as 3D printing brings up a whole world of new possibilities for added functionality, the most crucial consideration is the mass of the aircraft. Each gram aboard the plane affects flying duration and endurance, particularly on rotary-wing aircraft. As a result, a GoPro attachment, head tracker, and drop mechanism are not required for a craft designed for lengthy flying periods.

Best Materials

TPU is the most common material you’ll encounter, especially on mini-quadcopters. This is due to its extreme flexibility, which allows it to bend on contact, soaking energy and protecting its attached components. Unfortunately, its flexibility can absorb vibration, limiting the quantity shown in the recorded film. Thankfully, with the introduction of in-camera stabilization, this has become less of an impediment.

Nylon is another suitable material. It is more durable than TPU yet still retains some pliability.

Suitability

Bumpers, camera mounts, antenna mounts, and propeller guards are the most common items printed in TPU. Nylon is another material that may be used for propeller guards, although it is less frequent since it is more challenging to print.

While TPU and nylon have specific applications, they are not appropriate for all parts. For example, carbon-fiber-reinforced nylon is ideal for rigidity and strength applications, such as bespoke airframes. This is because the toughness of regular nylon is combined with the rigidity of carbon fiber. It’s also easier to print than nylon since it warps less and adheres better to the construction plate.

Adding 3D printed “feet” to the bottom of the craft’s frame and motor bolts is one approach to safeguard them. These are very beneficial when flying over hard surfaces like concrete. Similarly, carbon-fiber-reinforced nylon is suggested. The feet might still be printed in TPU, but the strength and durability would be reduced.

Types of Parts

Fins

If one enjoys racing quadcopters, they should try the regularly used top-mounted fins. These will aid in a model known as a “turtle.” For example, when landing an airplane upside down, they may reverse two motors to flip the plane over and take off again (and complete the race). These are typically printed in TPU and, on occasion, nylon.

Antenna Mounts

The video transmitter antennas are critical while flying with FPV. As a result, these components have several mounting choices. If the craft is designed for long-distance flight, encasing the active element of the antenna in TPU is not a wise idea since it would degrade the video signal. However, you must remain within the visible line of sight. Therefore, TPU is the chosen material for these since it is very elastic and can distort without permanently damaging it.

FPV head monitoring is also possible when the FPV camera is mounted on a rig and may travel in two or three dimensions per the eyewear. The camera travels in tandem with the head, increasing immersion. One should use rigid materials such as PETG, ABS, ASA, or PC. However, rigidity is essential to remove play in the parts once again.

Functional

If flying FPV or racing isn’t preferred, one can always print pieces to improve functionality, like a camera gimbal for aerial photography, videography, or a system for carrying and dropping goods.

In order to reduce play in a gimbal, the moving pieces should be printed in a nonflexible material. Furthermore, a flexible element should be used to separate it from disturbance while attaching the gimbal to the aircraft.

Protection

Lastly, pieces to protect goods, such as radio transmitter control sticks, are a fantastic printing alternative. Again, depending on the needs, they can be in either a malleable or nonmalleable material.

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