Axle Box Innovations developing 3D Printed Fire-Fighting Drones using Essentium AM Technology

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Axle Box is developing 3D printed fire-fighting drones
Above: Axle Box is developing 3D printed fire-fighting drone/Source: NBC News

Essentium, Inc., a leading innovator of industrial additive manufacturing (AM) solutions, announced that Axle Box Innovations, a public safety technology developer, is using its AM technology to develop US-made 3D printed fire-fighting drones.

Engineers at Axle Box are accelerating the development of lightweight and robust drone bodies by leveraging the Essentium High Speed Extrusion (HSE™) 3D printing platform and high-performance inherently heat resistant materials. The drones can withstand the extreme heat profile of wildfires to assist emergency response teams.

3D Printed Fire-Fighting Drones

Most commercial off-the-shelf drones cannot be used in wildfires, and developing custom fire-safe drones is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Axle Box is utilising cutting-edge 3D printing technology to overcome challenges related to strength, speed, and cost.

The mid-body of the 3D printed fire-fighting drones is made by Axle Box out of Essentium’s HTN-CF25, a high-temperature nylon with a 25% carbon fibre reinforced core. It has the highest heat deflection temperatures as well as tensile and flexural strength when compared to PA 603-CF. Essentium PA-CF is also used by Axle Box to make side covers that fail before the mid-body without sacrificing thermal stability. During demo flight tests, the drone platform outperformed expectations in terms of high-speed impact and overall functionality.

“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 3D printed fire-fighting drones that can withstand these extremely harsh conditions.”

– Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO of Essentium

According to Said Madison Jones, director of additive manufacturing, Axle-Box, “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.”

The Essentium HSE 3D Printer’s flexibility allows Axle Box engineers to design with complete freedom and accelerate the development process. New parts are created in a CAD programme, printed, and deployed in a matter of hours.

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