3D Printed Fire-Fighting Drones seem to be more resistant to wildfires. Here is Axle Box’ experience.

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire in Alpine, California, U.S., September 6, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken September 6, 2020. Steve Russo/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.

Axle Box Innovations, a public safety technology developer has recently leveraged Essentium’s AM technology for the development of drones. Designed for fire management and protection, the drones need to withstand wildfires hence the use of powerful materials for their manufacturing.

According to the company, most commercial off-the-shelf drones cannot be deployed into wildfires. With AM, the team has been able three of the most important bottlenecks in their manufacturing: strength, speed and costs.

Axle Box is producing the drone’s mid-body using Essentium’s HTN-CF25, high-temperature nylon with a 25% carbon fiber reinforced core. Compared to PA 603-CF, it has the highest heat deflection temperatures but also tensile and flexural strength. Axle Box is also using Essentium PA-CF to produce side covers designed to fail before the mid-body without sacrificing thermal stability. The drone platform exceeded expectations for high-speed impact and overall functionality during demo flight tests.

At the heart of the manufacturing lies the use of heat resistant materials to speed the development of lightweight and robust drone bodies. The drones can survive the extreme heat profile of wildfires to support the efforts of emergency response teams. The flexibility of the Essentium HSE 3D Printer allows Axle Box engineers to design with complete freedom and speed the development process. New parts are designed in a CAD program, printed, and deployed within hours.

The speed, scale, and economics of the HSE 3D Printer combined with Essentium’s array of advanced 3D printing filaments are changing the game for the design and development of drone platforms. The HSE has transformed our manufacturing floor, and we typically go from design to production in under four weeks. If we need a new part, we can have one printed and up in the air in a couple of hours. Our first responder customers will benefit greatly from this innovation agility“, Madison Jones, director of additive manufacturing, Axle-Box states.

As first responders gear up for fire season, firefighters need nimble remote-controlled drones to achieve visual oversight of wildfires in virtually every type of environment – from urban areas to rural deserts. We are excited Axle Box Innovations has chosen our 3D printing platform to enable the development of structurally rugged drones that can withstand these extremely harsh conditions“, Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO of Essentium notes.

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