A client from Melbourne wanted a 3D CAD design completed for a custom racing drone canopy. Drone racing is a relatively new and exciting sport wherein the competitors pilot drones via radio control using only a first-person view transmitted from a camera mounted on the drone. The goal is to complete a set course as quickly as possible like full scale air racing.
The drone canopy will house its antenna, camera while protecting the drone’s delicate circuitry. Thee client provided some intent sketches, base measurements and concept photos from the canopy he currently uses. Using these our 3D design engineers created an initial design and following a few iterations and feedback from the client the design was finalised ready to be 3D printed.
Due to the high impact nature of drone racing (the drones often crash into race gates at 80 – 100km/h) the canopy material needs to be very flexible and capable of suffering impact damage. These rule out the most commonly printed materials of ABS and PLA due to their relatively brittle properties. TPU was selected as the material of choice it is durable, abrasive resistant, flexible and most importantly able to withstand impacts.
However, TPU is notoriously difficult to 3D print compared to other filament materials, mainly due to its flexibility. It requires a lower feed rate; a direct drive extruder and the placement of the spool is critical due to TPU’s elastic properties if there is any resistance as it pulls off the spool the material will stretch leading to under extrusion. The drone canopy design was successfully printed in TPU on the UP Mini 2 at Cammpro.