The Sky’s The Limit! – 3D Printed Production Volumes for the UAV Market

Graphite Additive Manufacturing were delighted to team up with FT Technologies to help them develop a lightweight UAV and drone-specific ultrasonic wind sensor.

Making use of Graphite’s in-house developed and market-leading graphite-powder-reinforced nylon SLS® material, FT Technologies have been able to truly optimise their design. Additive manufacture, more commonly known as 3D printing, is slowly becoming widely understood as a ground-breaking production process. FT Technologies have gone a stage further. Working closely with Graphite, they’ve been able to develop the sensor with a focus on 3D printing from the start. The SLS® process, together with the exclusive Graphite SLS material, gives fantastic design freedom and has yielded an air-flow-optimised geometry with integral, complex features not possible with conventional manufacturing techniques.

Graphite’s range of post-processing sealants has ensured the parts are suitable for use in the challenging environments that the sensors will be subjected to. The sensors are rated to a maximum altitude of 4000m with temperatures between -20°C and +70°C. The fully assembled product weighs just 100g with all the electronics fitted, representing a critical mass saving over more conventional aluminium units.

A combination of Graphite’s high performance, production-ready SLS materials, and their engineering support, offers a unique proposition in modern manufacturing. By using the approach followed by FT Technologies, Graphite’s customers can make use of SLS for prototyping, pre-production and full production with a seamless transition from one step to the next.

Integral built-in threads, detailed features and the easy fitment of metallic threaded inserts have meant the Graphite SLS material and technology is no longer in competition with conventional machining or injection moulding processes. This represents a huge step forward for the additive manufacturing industry and something Graphite is proud to be a part of.

The sensor is featured on the FT Technologies website


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