Oct 30, 2016 | By Alec
While the 3D printing hobby has been supported by a number of high profile applications, 3D printed drones have done so much to promote the technology to a huge audience. But 3D printed drones are not without their own problems, as they are big, bulky, require a large flying zone and seem to be in a constant need for repairs. But there’s a solution. French startup Nano-Racing has been using 3D printing to create a very small line of drones that have all the functionality of professional-grade drones, and none of the drawbacks of the large 3D printed ones.
The startup itself was founded back in 2015, with a quest to democratize the growing sport of immersion drone racing. And its growing fast: it is now even being structured into an official aerial sport in Europe, the US, and in South Korea, among others, with thousands of players all around the world. As co-founder Charles Venayre revealed, they were big fans of racing drones themselves, but were put off by their closed technological setup, their bulky size (250mm drones have quite a large fly zone) and of course the huge costs involved in racing something so delicate.
Together with Christian Millot, Fabien Madore and Charles’s brother Maxime Venayre, he therefore founded Nano-Racing to provide a simple solution: 3D printed racing drones that are far less expensive to operate, easier to handle, less dangerous for onlookers and completely compatible with immersion software – something not all 3D printed drones are. “It is compatible with every type of hobbyist and professional piloting and immersion gear, which means it can be used by anyone,” the French entrepreneur says.
During development, the team strongly relied on Madore’s experience at Air France, while he was also one of the first in France to enter the drone industry. Since 2015, the group has no grown to ten employees, most of them being R&D specialists. Through the Kiss Kiss Bank Bank crowdfunding platform, they raised more than €60,000 to fund the concept, and their active mini drone racing community is growing constantly.
Right now, the startup is working hard to extend their range of products, including customization options, and tackle production challenges. “You can choose a “drone personality” using pre-set flying modes (note that each pilot has their own specific choice of settings and way of flying). Our other great particularity is that our drone is the only one in the world to be entirely assembled by interlocking: no screw, no welding. This a key advantage for customization!” Venayre says.
What’s more, 3D printing has been an integral part of Nano-Racing, and both Venayre and Madore were actively 3D printing ever since the Stratasys patents became public in 2009. “We used it for various prototypes, I used it to make architecture models,” Venayre recalls. “3D printing is an outstanding tool for prototyping and short-run production. That’s what we offered our first clients: an early bird short run of 320 products. And for us, 3D printing allowed us to do the tests, the crash tests, and adapt the product. All of this while avoiding the costs and delays that go along with injection molding: rheology tools, molds, injection, and the validations between each step.”
Things really took off with the help of 3D printing, especially for problem identification and solving. “It happened, for example, that after a crash test we realized that a zone lacked matter. So we reviewed the design to reprint the reinforced model. We also had to think about the adapting of the parts to the motors’ power,” Venayre recalls. Through 3D printing service company Sculpteo, they found the answers they needed and the 3D printing solutions that improved the prototypes through successive prototyping.
As a result, Nano-Racing is also seriously considering entering production with 3D printing. “Now that we are heading towards production in larger series, we will offer two options: a product done through injection molding, and a “hacking kit” that will make the drone more powerful, with 3D printed parts,” the French developer reveals. The drone arms will be digitally milled for additional rigidity.
While Nano-Racing is thus still a startup in every way, it does certainly act as an example on how to run a startup anno 2016. Through 3D printing and digital development, they are cost-effectively perfecting their product, while simultaneously supporting a grateful community. “Mastering 3D printing means to dare more. Daring to conceive industrial products, avoiding costly and long processes, testing the market first-hand. And it’s becoming more and more essential. In an iterative creation process like ours, you easily make two dozen prototypes. With 3D printing you can move fast, put aside the ideas that don’t work,” Venayre argues.
He therefore also strongly advises everyone with ideas to look into 3D printing, adding that educating yourself in the restrictions of 3D printing will greatly pay off in the long run. “Try out all the 3D printing techniques to understand which ones will be most effective for your project,” he advises beginning users. “Everything you need to get a hand of it is on the internet! It’s also important to get in touch with a fablab, a makers community, meet people, exchange. That’s how you learn.” And 3D printing services like Sculpteo can play a huge role in seeing what professional-grade 3D printers can add without wasting your startup funds yourself.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Kids-Tech Launches Elementary Classes Using VR, Drones and 3D Printing
Kids-Tech, an Atlanta-based ed tech company, has launched Tech Class, a year-long program for elementary school kids designed to help build a foundation of knowledge in technology.
The weekly classes cover 3D printing, app building, drones and virtual reality. They typically take place after school, after general, daytime instruction has ended. Kids-Tech offers skills building and hands-on experiences for students as young as 3 years old.
Supplying all of the equipment, with classes held at the kids’ schools, Kids-Tech is currently offering classes to more than 500 children in the Atlanta area. Instead of teaching students difficult terminology and technique processes first, Kids-Tech teaches by allowing the children to interact, engage and learn naturally. Along the way, the students are expected to pick up the details.
“It is never too early to foster a love and understanding for learning,” Kids-Tech says on its website. “Our philosophy is: the stronger the foundation, the taller the building. The faster children can become acquainted with technology in a structured and directed manner, the more they will be able to flourish in it.”
Kids-Tech integrates the demand and need for STEM and technological skills into engaging, bite-sized classes that children enjoy, according to a news release.
More information about Kids-Tech and its Tech Class can be found at the company’s website.
Richard Chang is associate editor of THE Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
These days drones are buzzing, not only in the skies, but throughout the maker community! Makers’ love affair with drones is easy to understand: it has all the trademarks of the maker movement. From open source hardware, robotics (like sensors), cameras, to innovative applications to solve real-world problems, drones are fun and functional. In Volume 44 of Make:, the editors dive into the red-hot world of quadcopters, with drone builds and inspired aerial activities.In this issue:
- Build the maker hangar R/C tricopter
- 3D print a quadcopter
- How to waterproof your drone
- Setting up an FPV drone race
- Pilot’s checklist
- DIY carbon fiber acoustic guitar
- Singing plasma-arc speaker
- 3D printable electric motor
- Easy infinity mirror
- Clone a fig tree
- Raspberry Pi super security camera
British citizens forecast a future in which robots, routine space flights and drone-based pizza deliveries are a reality, according to London & Partners.
A survey of over 2,000 people commissioned by the Mayor of London’s promotional company shows that Brits expect their lives to be transformed significantly by technology in the next 20 years.
We will no longer visit a GP when unwell but instead discuss ailments with doctors through virtual reality (VR) headsets, while a large proportion foresee a future in which human organs are 3D printed to remove the reliance on organ donations. Half of those surveyed predict that the first human clone will be born as early as 2036.
The survey was commissioned as part of London Technology Week, and prompted new London mayor Sadiq Khan to highlight how Londoners have a progressive view of technological advances and declare his ambition to embrace and fuel that sentiment.
“London Technology Week shines a light on this hugely important sector of the economy and demonstrates how our city is open to trade, ideas and people from across the globe,” he said.
“Tech-savvy Londoners welcome new digital advances that are going to revolutionise the way we live, and it is crucial that we harness those ideas to help the capital work even better as a city.
“As someone who has helped to run a successful business, I look forward to supporting the tech sector so that it goes from strength to strength over the coming years.”
The research also found that 37 per cent of UK citizens envisage commercial space flights from major airports, and 23 per cent predict that there will be an artificial intelligence (AI) serving on the board of a big company, within 20 years.
Some 19 per cent of Brits, possibly less keen on physical interaction, see virtual girlfriends and boyfriends becoming commonplace, and 37 per cent believe that communication devices will be embedded inside their bodies within two decades.
Some of these predictions are unsurprising, given that high-end consumer VR headsets are now commercially available, AI is becoming embedded in an increasing number of devices, and driverless car testing is taking place across the country.
Startup accelerators have been set up to boost the development of new technologies, and the future envisioned by the survey respondents is by no means far-fetched.
If you see a drone fly over your house, you want to shoot it down. Admit it. You do. But you won’t and you’d better get used to the idea of swarms of them cruising the skies above you — and soon. So put down your shotgun and get your mind right.
Drones are generating both joy and controversy as the technology behind them improves, and Joost Hezemans, the Head Designer at Aerialtronics, is one of the people responsible.
Aerialtronics designs, produces, and services unmanned aircraft systems with products like the Altura Zenith, an advanced aircraft system which has found applications in safety and security, inspections, videography, surveying and mapping, agriculture, and research.
Unmanned aircraft systems, or drones for civilian and commercial applications, are certainly disruptive technologies. Based in the Netherlands, Aerialtronics’ drones are built with 3D printing as a key element of their creation. The company turned to 3D prototyping after becoming exasperated waiting the full month it once took them to produce each iteration of their designs.
So Aerialtronics brought a solution in-house in the form of a Stratasys uPrint SE Plus 3D Printer which they use to build customized pieces such as motor housings, gimbals, and protective boxes and enclosures for hardware and software.
“We have basically developed a concept that uses a standard platform and is customizable to individual customers and applications,” Hezemans says. “The result of our development is the Altura Zenith. Specially tailored options include the number and power of motors, the payload capacity, flight times and variations of required software systems. Developing even these limited variations required many design iterations requiring prototype models. The process was slow and expensive. Since taking control of our own 3D printing requirements, we have eradicated the lengthy lead times we previously had to endure and have cut our R&D time by about 50 percent.”
Using ABSplus material, Hezemans says, means parts surround motors which generate a lot of heat have the combination of strength and weight characteristics the devices need to function at peak efficiency.
Aerialtronics constructs the main platform of their drones from carbon fiber, but they produce a variety of 3D printed parts for final-use that vary in size according to the specific needs of customers. The parts are often used to house sensor equipment, video and GPS systems, and enclosures to hold cabling and electronic components.
“With the uPrint 3D printer, we can adjust a design one day and 3D print new parts overnight, test it, tweak it some more, and print another to test the next day,” Hezemans said. “This process means that designs have gone through between five and 10 more iterations than before.”
And as for that shooting them out of the sky? Aerialtronics says they have high hopes Valkenburg, a former naval air base, will be developed into a site for what they call an Unmanned Valley initiative where UAVs can be tested in the Netherlands. The company is also at work with the FAA and CAA to educate regulators about the impact and importance of remotely piloted aircraft on businesses.
“Stratasys’ 3D printing technology helped us advance the design and development of the Altura Zenith drone far more quickly – and at a much lower cost – than would have been achievable with conventional methods,” Hezemans said.
Designers are bringing 3D printers in-house to speed up their time-to-market through rapid prototyping? Do you know of any other companies that bought their own 3D printer for prototyping? Let us know in the 3D Printing Data Collection Drones forum thread on 3DPB.com. Find out more about Aerialtronics’ use of 3D printing in the video below: