The Right Technology for Your
Unmanned Systems Application
Advanced additive manufacturing technologies such as SLS
and Composite Lay-up
allow for the creation of rigid lightweight UAV parts and structures
not otherwise achievable with other manufacturing methods. Due to the advancements of 3D printing technologies and materials, unmanned aerial vehicles
are experiencing performance improvements with superior part design from integrated structures and component consolidation, as well as lighter weight components contributing to endurance enhancements and lower cost for production part development.
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UAV Component Technologies
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
SLS UAV parts are light-weight, highly durable and both heat and chemical resistant. They are being used for a variety of end-use and flight-rated components for uav’s including robust flight surfaces, fuel tanks and air-ducts with integrated structures. FOD covers, assembly fixtures, drill jigs and alignment tools are other popular applications.
Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
FDM is often used for Direct Digital Manufacturing, and for UAV components requiring high heat and fire retardant properties. The Ultem-9085 FDM material is flame, smoke and toxicity certified to UL-94V0 and FAA 25.853 standards making it ideal for aerospace applications.
Advanced Composite Technologies
Fiber Reinforced Plastic, CompositeCast and RTM are ideal for UAV Components requiring high-strength or where the large size of the part makes other technologies unsuitable. These technologies are ideal for lightweight geometries with large, sweeping curved surfaces such as unmanned vehicle body panels. Applications include a single oversized cosmetic cover to a few hundred equipment panels.
Common UAV Component Manufacturing Materials
High-performance materials optimized for flight and utilized for Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM).
PA 640 GSL
Lightweight Nylon 12 material enhanced with carbon fiber with high strength-to-weight ratio
- 30% weight reduction compared to other SLS materials
- Heat Deflection Temperature 350°F (177°C)
- Flexural Strength 20,400psi; Flexural Modulus 731,000 psi
- Tensile Strength 7,7100 psi; Tensile Modulus 554,000 psi
- Electrostatically Dissipative
Horizontal and vertical stabilizers, ailerons, electronic mounts, air flow ducts, conduits, wing tips, avionic mounts and gimbals
Nylon 11 material known to be the world’s strongest aliphatic nylon. Boasts exceptional toughness with a combination of durable strength, high abrasion, good fatigue resistance, exceptional chemical and hydrocarbon resistance.
- Lowest water absorption of all commercially available polyamides
- Outstanding impact strength, even at temperatures below freezing
- Good chemical and petroleum resistance against fuels, lubricants and salt solutions
- Good fatigue resistance under high frequency cyclical loading condition
- High ionization radiation resistance
As one of the only Rapid Manufacturing Service Providers with a dedicated quality department, Solid Concepts is committed to providing accurate high-quality parts. Our consistent dedication to quality, on-time delivery and customer satisfaction has provided a number of highly sought after awards and honors. Among these recognitions are the Raytheon 3-Star Supplier Award, Honeywell SRR, Boeing Double Gold Performance Rating and Northrop Grumman Platinum Award.
Sample UAV Components
UAV Component Expertise
Solid Concepts is the technology leader in the additive manufacturing industry and specializes in using these systems for production of unmanned system components. Our facilities comply with AS 9100 (Austin, TX & Valencia, CA) and ISO 9001 (Poway, CA) certifications.
The quality of product produced at Solid Concepts has earned us an unsurpassed reputation in rapid production and manufacturing for unmanned systems. Countless fortune 500 companies, U.S. Armed Forces & aerospace pioneers continually turn to Solid Concepts for their rapid manufacturing projects.
With 6 U.S. facilities and 12 different technologies, Solid Concepts has the capacity, expertise and process controls to meet all your unmanned system needs.
Aviation Fuel Tanks
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) has proven to be ideal for small fuel tanks used in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Ground Vehicles. In addition to shortened lead time and low production volume cost advantages, SLS fuel tanks can easily incorporate unique design features to improve performance, capacity and reliability. Benefits of Additive Manufacturing:
- Integrated bulkheads, battery mounts, fuel passages and anti-slosh partitions
- Internal passages for wing and longitudinal spars, conduit wireways, pass-through hardware, and vent lines
- Designs that maximize volume within organic and conformal shaped structures
- Variable wall thickness and internal support structures for optimizing strength to weight ratios
Fuel Tank Material Considerations
Nylon-11 based SLS materials are the preferred choice for fuel tanks. These polyamide materials build more densely than Nylon-12 based materials and are consequently less porous. Nylon-11 materials have well known success in gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and other petroleum industry applications. To create a more impervious surface, pressure vessels and fuel cells can be internally coated with ITF (Integral Fuel Tank) coatings as required.
Air Flow Ducts
Manufacturing of complex multi-component designs can be redesigned as unitized structures utilizing SLS and FDM manufacturing technologies. Designing complex organic and conformal shaped air plenums, vents, NACA ducts and ECS ducts are popular applications well suited for the production capabilities of additive layer manufacturing.
Liquid & Fuel Vessels
SLS containers for water, fuel, oil, glycol, antifreeze or hydraulic fluids provide optimized volume of available space with efficient and effective conformal designs. This allows for multiple part reductions and integrated structures while providing weight reductions over conventional assemblies and increasing available volume for liquid storage.
Custom wheels that range in design and size can be manufactured with a wide variety of Cast Urethane materials.
Mounting Brackets for Avionics & Electrical Systems
Popular applications include mounting brackets for electrical hardware, control mounts, pod enclosures, battery trays with hold-downs, service bay hatches, and close-outs such as FOD protection covers.
- Cast Urethanes
Wings & Wingtips
Lightweight complex organic shaped aerodynamic structures can easily be manufactured with FDM and SLS. Successful examples include wing roots (trailing edge & leading edge), winglets & wingtips.
Flaps, ailerons, stabilizers, rudders, flaperons, ruddervators, fairings, shrouds, and seal frames have been successfully manufactured with SLS and FDM technologies. Many such components often include structural supports such as internal ribs and stiffeners to increase the strength to weight ratio as well as providing for integrated mounting configurations.
Lightweight components for gimbal enclosures can be designed with complex shapes for additive manufacturing.
Clips, Clamps & Grommets
The nest and stack production volume capability of SLS provides an easy way to manufacture clips, clamps, grommets, plugs and spacers on demand.
Wire Trays, Wire Ways & Electrical Conduit
SLS provides the ability to manufacture conformal wire trays, built-in wire ways, and conformal electrical conduit. These structures can include integrated clips and clamps for quick and easy assembly.
Body Panels, Fenders & Bumpers
Cast Urethanes and Composites are good for large, rigid panels requiring tough, high-impact strength. Cast Urethanes, particularly CompositeCast provide robust, durable skins, cast in color with smooth or textured surfaces.
- Cast Urethanes
Avionics & Radio Enclosures/Pods
Enclosures for a variety of components including avionics, radio, video and wiring can be created utilizing Cast Urethane technologies.