Unmanned aerial vehicles—sometimes called UAVs but more frequently known as drones—are a relatively new form of aerospace technology. As with any new technology, we’re still striving to unlock its fullest potential and eager to see the next best thing.
Fortunately, there are no lack of innovators aiming to deliver. The unique team of Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys, an aerospace company and 3D printing manufacturer, respectively, may have been the latest to do just that.
Fast To Build, Fast To Fly
Now featuring their creation at the Dubai Airshow, Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys have successfully built and flown what is said to be the world’s first 3D printed jet-powered aircraft, which also means it may be the fastest drone created thus far.
Its thirty pound structure and nine foot wingspan took just nine months to design and build, and is capable of reaching speeds up to 150 mph. Drones previous to this, usually driven by propellers rather than jets, are known to top out at around 100 mph.
Though Aurora Flight Sciences and Stratasys’ current prototype can only maintain its velocity for five minutes, the beauty of this particular design approach means that modifications can be made and variations can be built relatively quickly. Perhaps a few changes will lead to an even faster UAV in the very near future.
From Concept To Craft In Just Months
Besides lending itself nicely to production speed and design variables, 3D printing is conducive to creating lightweight, structurally sound aircraft. About 80% of prototype was created through 3D printing, including its metal fuel tank and exhaust chute.
After viewing its flight, it’s clear to see that this is an impressive and capable drone, but the creators are more interested in selling the concept rather than physical result. By cutting total production time down to just a few months, aerospace designers will get a chance to test concepts and crafts much faster than in the past.
Given the option, would you like to test out your own 3D printed, jet-powered drone? Share your thoughts on this development in the comments.