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Drones were first developed in a military context but are now playing an increasingly important role in civil contexts too. And recently their use in the nautical world has stepped up considerably.
Drones are used for leisure and for rescue. And small, easy to use underwater drones are used for hull-cleaning and are encouraging environmentally-friendly anti-fouling procedures.
Rescue drones already used by the United States Coast Guard service will soon be available on the civil market. These small remote-controlled boats can quickly carry a self-inflatable craft to shipwrecked persons in any weather conditions.
The Tundra-M, a professional modular drone built using Windform® and 3D printing looks especially interesting, in view of its numerous uses in the nautical sphere, its modular design and the materials used to make it.
Tundra-M is a modular working prototype produced using selective laser sintering (SLS) technology and Windform® composite materials. Developed by CRP Technology for the motorsport industry, these composites are now being used in a wide range of applications in the most advanced sectors: like the nautical world, for example.
The Tundra-M project involved CRP Technology and Hexadrone, a French company that is leading the field in the construction of industrial and multi-functional drones.
CRP created the Tundra-M prototype using professional 3D printing and two carbon fibre-reinforced composite materials. The four arms are made of Windform® XT 2.0, while the main structure (central body/fuselage/bodywork) is made of Windform® SP.
The drone was designed by Hexadrone and from the outset the idea was to use composites to create the various components. The focus of the project was to create a “modular” drone: a drone that can be assembled and dismantled. The Tundra-M consists of a two-part frame, joints, a system (patented by CRP) to rapidly attach and detach the parts, and components forming the mobile arm system (patented by Hexadrone).
This technology and these materials have generated notable savings in time and money. A rapid iteration process was needed, as well as the best possible relationship between structural resistance and weight and the production of a multi-function prototype.
All of these specifications were satisfied in full using laser sintering technology and Windform® composite materials. This makes it possible to produce working prototypes that enjoy all the advantages of injection moulding, but without the disadvantages of this traditional technology in terms of costs and timescales.
The materials selected for the prototype have similar properties and features -- such as density, colour, breaking load, modulus of elasticity, modulus of resistance and elongation at rupture -- to the materials that will be used during production. So it was possible to test the prototype in real conditions.
The central body and the supporting feet are made of Windform. The body, which consists of the frame and a removable cover, contains the Tundra-M’s nerve centre: the main circuits and the cooling system.
A strong, resistant and waterproof material was needed for the body: not only is it equipped with a two-battery emergency parachute, but it is the structure to which the four extractable modular arms are attached. For this reason, a carbon fibre-reinforced composite material was chosen.