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Nextech & Formlabs, 3D-printed Drone Parts in high-quality finish

By Formlabs, Nextech

Material: Nylon 12 Powder Machine: Fuse 1+ 30W Industry: Prototyping Technology: Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

Nextech & Formlabs, 3D-printed Drone Parts in high-quality finish

Revolutionizing flight: 3D printing propels drone manufacturing to new heights.



Nextech, a South African drone manufacturer, leverages Formlabs' selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printers from Formlabs to craft top-tier, bespoke UAVs for diverse industries. The rugged, end-use qualities of SLS components empower Nextech to seamlessly navigate design, prototyping, and production within a unified workflow. Conventional manufacturing methods pose challenges for customization due to the expense and complexity involved in creating molds or employing machining, water jet, and laser cutting techniques, especially for intricate geometries. However, 3D printing has revolutionized this landscape, enabling drone manufacturers to fabricate complex designs and tailored solutions affordably. Despite this, the widespread adoption of 3D printing has been hindered by the search for suitable technology and materials. Enter the Fuse 1+ 30W SLS workflow, which equips Nextech with the agility to rapidly prototype, refine designs through iterative cycles with customer input, and mass-produce custom components cost-effectively. Among Nextech's notable creations is a fixed-wing drone boasting a 3.2-meter wingspan and a remarkable 100-kilometer range. Commissioned by the French government, this drone embarked on missions to survey and assess deteriorating Arctic ice caps. Outfitted with multispectral and custom thermal imaging equipment, it diligently scrutinized the impact of ocean currents on ice cap degradation. The Nextech team ingeniously engineered customized brackets, body components, and wingtips capable of withstanding extreme conditions to accommodate this specialized payload. Although the eventual wingtips were fashioned from a carbon fiber composite, the conventional mold-making process proved time-intensive and machining costs were prohibitive. In response, the team turned to Nylon 12 Powder on the Fuse 1+ 30W, enabling them to explore intricate designs with comparable weight characteristics to carbon fiber. Further showcasing the versatility of 3D printing, Kroone, a member of the Nextech team, harnessed the capabilities of the Fuse 1+ 30W to fabricate smart battery locators featuring a convenient snap-in mechanism.



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