Watch the skies: More and more, you’ll see unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) doing both commercial and public work. And a greater percentage of those devices will incorporate components manufactured with technology from EOS, the technology and market leader for design-driven, integrated e-Manufacturing solutions for industrial applications. Examples abound at AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2012 (Aug. 7-9, Las Vegas, Nevada).
At booth 3758, EOS will display a variety of innovative laser-sintered aerospace parts, some of them difficult or even impossible to manufacture any other way. Around the corner at booth 3450, Northwest UAV Propulsion Systems and its sister company, Northwest Rapid Manufacturing, will be running a FORMIGA P 100 plastic laser-sintering system from EOS.
“Laser sintering provides a competitive business advantage that is helping us find new customers,” says Alexander Graham Dick, VP Operations and Technical Sales Manager of Northwest Rapid. “It offers high quality, rapid turnaround and the ability to create efficient, integrated components.” One example is the company’s generator set, which made use of their EOS plastic laser-sintering system. The set, which consists of a combustion engine that drives an electrical generator, increases fuel capacity through a plastic tank design that takes maximum advantage of available space and incorporates the fuel tank and its enclosure in one part.
Noted aerospace and defense analysts Teal Group observed in a recent market study that UAV spending is set to nearly double worldwide over the next decade, from $6.6 billion to $11.4 billion per year. Others predict that a sizable segment of this expansion will be civilian applications.
“Nearly every day someone recognizes a new use for UAVs for which the vehicle or payload needs to be adapted,” says Udo Behrendt, EOS’ Global Business Development Manager, Aerospace. “That means re-thinking designs and quickly remaking components—which is where the manufacturing capabilities of laser sintering are invaluable.”
UAV manufacturers can benefit from laser sintering in many ways. The plastic or metal materials are strong and durable. Lightweight parts can be built with complex shapes. Laser sintering enables instant customization and re-design without tooling, making it inexpensive to re-purpose an existing UAV from one mission to another. The technology has been used to make fuel tanks, engine housings, cowlings, nacelles, ducts, and even entire fuselages. For more information about Northwest Rapid Manufacturing, go to www.nwrapidmfg.com