FLYING-CAM, a leader in design and manufacturing of unmanned helicopters and pioneer of professional drone filming services, celebrated its 30th anniversary with the World premiere of Discovery, its newest unmanned aircraft system.
The Belgium-based company decided to turn to CRP Technology and its Powder Bed Fusion Additive Manufacturing process with composite polymers fiber-reinforced to complete the construction of Discovery.
Discovery is a 75 kg Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) unmanned single rotor helicopter. It is FLYING-CAM’s largest and most versatile system with increased endurance features. FLYING-CAM involved CRP Technology in the manufacturing of Discovery’s tail rotor gear box housing, which is the main housing attached to the main tail boom.
Emmanuel Previnaire, founder and CEO of FLYING-CAM, says, “With the potential drones offer the civil market, and the interest in Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) flights, we felt it was the right time to develop a drone that could not only capture beautiful imagery for movies, television shows and commercials, but that could carry a variety of payloads to collect the necessary data for other Industrial applications.
The result was the creation of the “super drone” named Discovery, fully integrated with the state-of-art sensors carefully chosen to match the supreme platform quality for a variety of applications ranging from Entertainment Industry, Homeland Security, Earth Monitoring, and in general High Precision Remote Sensing.”
The 3D printed functional part
The aim of the project was to create a lightweight yet rigid physical and aerodynamic protection for the tail rotor actuators and the GPS antenna of the MTOW Unmanned single rotor helicopter named Discovery.
CRP Technology, according to FLYING-CAM’s requirements and standard, opted for a 3D printing process with composite polymers fiber-reinforced and Windform XT 2.0 as construction material. Windform XT 2.0 is a Carbon fiber filled polyamide based 3D printing composite, suitable for demanding applications such as motorsports, aerospace, and UAV. It replaced the previous formula of Windform XT in the Windform family of materials for PBF created by CRP Technology, featuring improvements in mechanical properties including +8% increase in tensile strength, +22% in tensile modulus, and a +46% increase in elongation at break.
“The component, adds Emmanuel Previnaire, was planned to be clamped on the tail boom, and support also the Carbon plate used as a tail rotor ground protection. For this reason, a good stress resistance was needed. The clamping strength depends on the construction material’s capabilities. We chose Windform XT 2.0 as it allows us to achieve it with a good weight-resistance ratio.”
The mechanical and thermal properties of Windform materials are connected to the characteristics of the 3D printing manufacturing process.
Previnaire underlines, “The most innovative aspect in enlisting the 3D printing process and composite materials supplied by CRP Technology is the free shape design, important for aerodynamic purpose, as well as the ability to create complex wiring channels inside with strong attachment points, in one unique piece. The PBF process and Windform materials allow the creation of hollow parts with many functional details, such as fixation nuts integration, cable attachment points. This is added-value that perfectly suited our purposes and standards.”
FLYING-CAM’s systems have changed over the years, in order to be up-to-date with the market requests.
“In the past,” says Previnaire, “you could stay in business with a product for 15 years. Now, every six months you need to update. For that reason, we designed a platform that follows the pace of technology. To keep up with the ever-changing technology in the UAS industry, and to obtain the highest levels of reliability, safety, precision and adaptability to take on a variety of missions, such as mapping and inspections, we rely on partners who not only offer cutting-edge technological solutions, but are forerunners of technological innovations at the maximum level, and CRP Technology is among them.
“We started collaborating with CRP Technology many years ago, for the realization of SARAH 3.0, our electric Vertical Take-Off And Landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial system, now replaced by SARAH 4.0.