The joint program by the MoD’s Flight Technologies Department, part of the Directorate for Defense Research and Development, and IAI has seen the production of the SkysPrinter UAV and a successful test flight – Defense intelligence website Janes exclusively reported.
The electrically powered UAV was made from 26 parts 3D printed using metal, nylon, carbon, and other complex materials. These were assembled together with glue and fasteners without the need for specialized tools. SkysPrinter’s body is 1.65 m-long, has a wingspan of 1.5 m, and take-off weight of 7 kg, according to the MoD.
Neta Blum, head of the Flight Technologies Department, introduced the idea of a 3D printed UAV system and the MoD allocated research and development resources over the past year, leading to the test flight.
Blum told Janes that selective laser sintering (SLS) was used to allow new designs of the SkysPrinter to be rapidly produced in line with operational feedback from commanders on the ground. “This way of doing it gives us new production capabilities and significant advantages,” she said.
She described a process of field feedback leading to new versions of the UAV within an unprecedentedly short time. If a heavier payload is needed, for example, the design can be adjusted so the UAV has thicker wings for a larger take-off weight.