Case Study: Usage of Flexfill TPU and ABS on Drones by Rotorama September 18 2019
Rotorama is a producer of FPV racing drones. These drones are about 25 cm in size, weighing around 500 g and can fly at speed of up to 160 km per hour. 3D printing is here used for printing accessories such as camera holders, antenna holders or drones’ fins. In some cases, the propeller protectors or even a whole shed are printed as well.
Fillamentum, a producer of high-quality filaments, offers solutions for flexible production and fast prototyping with an emphasis on high utility properties that predetermine professional printing. Rotorama employees use flexible materials such as Flexfill TPU for 3D printing. Each hardness, Shore 92A, and 98A is used for something slightly different. Flexfill TPU is a highly flexible, elastic material with excellent mechanical properties. It is highly durable and has excellent adhesion between layers.
Another integral part of the drones are the frames that Rotorama designs and prints themself. In production, prototypes are first printed in ABS Extrafill by Fillamentum and then cut out of carbon which is more expensive and the production is very difficult.
“The printed frame gives us a clear picture of how the carbon frame will look like. It's all clear and more graspable than on a computer model,” says Jiri Fiedler. The ABS material is ideal for the production of the first functional samples before mass production. It has excellent mechanical properties and it is easy to print even in high detail.
The printed frame model is fitted with other components and then it's tested. If the model is in order and meets the requirements, several carbon prototypes are cut and further tested, especially for the durability. As a standard, 1-2 universal holders are printed for the frames. Customers can print the rest themselves or on-demand.
Rotorama uses 3D printing technology mainly for the production of flexible parts and fast prototyping. Usually, up to tens of units are printed from each part. The components used for drones often differ in shape. Each antenna and camera have a different shape and each pilot requires a different camera tilt angle. Thanks to 3D printing, each part is basically tailor-made for the needs of the company or their customers. They can choose from a range of models that meet their requirements.
Facts about Flexfill TPU
- Flexible material with a high level of elasticity
- Interlayer adhesion
- Low warping and stringing
- Excellent mechanical properties
- Chemical resistance
Facts about ABS Extrafill
- Good mechanical properties
- Good impact strength and durability
- High quality of printed objects even in details
- Ideal for the production of a sample before serial production
“The printed frame gives us a clear picture of how the frame will look like. It's all clear and more graspable than on a computer model. The main advantage of 3D printing is the cheap production of unit pieces because the parts we print very often change. Because do the printing ourselves, we can have the necessary piece in hand in just a few hours.”
Jiří Fiedler, Developer, Rotorama
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