Essentium, Inc., an innovator of industrial additive manufacturing (AM) solutions, announced Axle Box Innovations, a public safety technology developer, is using Essentium AM technology to support the development of US-made 3D printed drones for fire management and protection.
Engineers at Axle Box are leveraging the Essentium High Speed Extrusion (HSETM) 3D Printing Platform and high-performance inherently heat resistant materials to speed the development of lightweight and robust drone bodies. The drones can survive the extreme heat profile of wildfires to support the efforts of emergency response teams.
Most commercial off-the-shelf drones cannot be deployed into wildfires, and the development of bespoke fire-safe drones is complex, time-consuming, and costly. Axle Box is using the latest 3D printing technology to solve strength, speed, and cost obstacles.
Axle Box is producing the drone’s mid-body using Essentium’s HTN-CF25, high-temperature nylon with a 25% carbon fiber reinforced core. Compared to PA 603-CF, it has the highest heat deflection temperatures, but also tensile and flexural strength. Axle Box is also using Essentium PA-CF to produce side covers designed to fail before the mid-body without sacrificing thermal stability. The drone platform exceeded expectations for high-speed impact and overall functionality during demo flight tests.
The flexibility of the Essentium HSE 3D Printer allows Axle Box engineers to design with complete freedom and speed the development process. New parts are designed in a CAD program, printed, and deployed within hours.
Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO of Essentium said: “As first responders gear up for fire season, firefighters need nimble remote-controlled drones to achieve visual oversight of wildfires in virtually every type of environment – from urban areas to rural deserts. We are excited Axle Box Innovations has chosen our 3D printing platform to enable the development of structurally rugged drones that can withstand these extremely harsh conditions.”
Madison Jones, director of additive manufacturing, Axle-Box, commented: “The speed, scale, and economics of the HSE 3D Printer combined with Essentium’s array of advanced 3D printing filaments are changing the game for the design and development of drone platforms. The HSE has transformed our manufacturing floor, and we typically go from design to production in under four weeks. If we need a new part, we can have one printed and up in the air in a couple of hours. Our first responder customers will benefit greatly from this innovation agility.”