“Anyone who works in the drone business knows it’s all about the passion.”
– Sebastian Sattler, CEO Quantum-Systems.
Imagine a rooftop in Germany where drone designers elevator up to fly their new wares nearly every day, testing them under the skies just outside of Munich. It all began with the Trinity F90+, the first 3D printed drone design from Quantum-Systems, featuring their eVTOL system outfitted with fixed-wing mapping for the professional set.
It all began with 3D printing too. Founded in 2015, Quantum-Systems began working with Shapeways the very next year to 3D print drone designs using both Selective Laser Sintering and Multi Jet Fusion technology from the outset, favoring materials like Nylon 12 [Versatile Plastic] and MJF PA12.
“Since then, I couldn’t even count the number of 3D printed parts we’ve ordered, but it’s a lot,” said Sattler.
More Powerful Flight with 3D Printed Drone Frames
In a recent webinar co-presented with Shapeways, he went on to explain that the whole point initially was to create a drone that could take off like a helicopter but fly with the endurance of a plane. This means they have to be able to withstand heat and wind, and extend the payload weight. The drones must also possess both range and electric efficiency.
These days Quantum-Systems sells numerous eVTOL (short for electric vertical takeoff and landing) models worldwide to companies engaged in applications like farming and even border patrol operations, just to name a couple. With a focus on looking toward applications that require mapping first, and 3D printed drone designs centered around consumers like retail deliveries second, Quantum-Systems offers other solutions too, like the Vector and the Scorpion.
The manufacturing partnership between Quantum-Systems and Shapeways means they are able to reduce design and production cycles for all their drones, from the initial design phase and fast iteration of prototypes to preparing fully vetted parts that become functional end-use components.
“Perfecting our prototypes via 3D printing with Shapeways saves us tens of thousands of dollars in pre-production and testing costs,” said Sattler.
3D Printed Drone Accessories Are Much Lighter
One of the biggest questions regarding any drone is how it’s going to be outfitted, and how that will affect the weight. No matter what type of aerospace technology is going into the air, weight is in question for maximizing performance. This becomes even more challenging in terms of 3D design when the drones are carrying actual items for delivery.
Whether refining prototypes or functional parts with Shapeways, the Quantum-Systems team has seen impressive reduction of weight for 3D printed parts like mounts. Sattler points out that their key to success is in simplicity, preferring to use one streamlined part rather than a bunch of little ones that may be rougher in texture and fit too.
3D Printing is Fast and Unlimited Testing is Possible
The Quantum-Systems flight testing team is very busy every day, flying drones in all conditions. There are several different testing teams, including one in the US—where they often test in higher temperatures not commonly found in Germany.
With the ability to rely on 3D printing, their team is able to reduce design and production cycles for all of their drones. This means cutting time in the beginning design phase, along with expecting fast iteration of prototypes, as well as parts that later become fully evaluated and go on to be used as functional, end-use components.
“3D printing, besides being super fast, lets us produce nice, modern shapes that always look bionic and are lightweight,” said Sattler.
Contact Shapeways now to enjoy the benefits of advanced technology and materials for manufacturing creations with accuracy, complex detail, and no minimum or limits in terms of mass customization or single part orders. Shapeways has worked with over 1 million customers in 160 countries to make over 21 million parts! Read about case studies, find out more about Shapeways additive manufacturing solutions, and get instant quotes here.