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DUBAI: Stratasys UAV offers glimpse into printed future

US 3D printing specialist Stratasys is displaying what it calls the world’s fastest unmanned air vehicle produced with additive printing technology.

The company developed the jet-powered UAV with Aurora Flight Sciences, which specialises in designing and building special-purpose UAVs.

“This is a perfect demonstration of the unique capabilities that additive manufacturing can bring to aerospace,” says Stratasys executive Scott Sevcik. “This meant using different 3D printing materials and technologies together on one aircraft to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing and 3D print both lightweight and capable structural components.”

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Apart from the engines, avionics, and landing gear, all major parts of the aircraft were printed, namely the aircraft’s main body, wings, and wing extensions.

Speaking to Flightglobal, Stratasys executives says 3D Printing eliminates the need for tooling. It also results in a lighter aircraft than would be available using conventional technology.

Sevcik says that several elaborate, weight-saving structures of the UAV would have been impossible to make using traditional production technologies.

As to whether 3D printing is ready to tackle larger, manned aircraft, Stratasys executives are more guarded. They say the technology definitely has a role producing components for larger aircraft, but that a full-sized aircraft is not on the immediate horizon.

Stratasys is among several 3D printing companies at this year’s show, which are located in a special “3D Printshow” section of the hall.

See all the latest news, analysis and opinion from the Dubai air show.

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