In the growing unmanned vehicle market there is increasing demand for technologies that reduce time-to-market and lower development costs.
Until recently, most of UAV OEMs had been using various production techniques, such as CNC milling, mainly in the production of the aluminum core of its products.
This had become problematic on three levels:
•First, costs to produce increasingly complex and sophisticated parts were rising exponentially using traditional processes, such as CNC machining.
•Second, there was a critical dependency on sub-suppliers of CNC milled parts which tended to prioritize high volume contracts giving smaller orders a slower turn around.
•Third, some parts must be custom, meaning the company was producing even lower volumes with resultant increased cost for these parts.
To solve these issues, many UAV design engineers are reviewing various alternative technologies for more efficient production combining traditional production methods with modern in-house production techniques such as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), that allows delivering of custom parts just in hours or days.
Replacing expensive and lead-time critical CNC-milled parts with in-house manufactured plastic parts, engineers are reducing the part cost to one third. Also, the plastic parts perform better technically, weighing less and providing better electrical insulation.