3D Printing of drone parts – a good step forward
The 3D printing revolution has started and drones, among other products, are better for it
So I decided to wait. And wait some more. Here we are many years later and 3D printing is getting much easier than it was back then but it’s still not where I had hoped it would be. I had hoped that, by now, we would be able to pick one up almost anywhere like a standard printer and be able to use to print ANYTHING we wanted. Well, the technology is getting there but it’s not quite there yet. Having said that, I think I could now buy a 3D printer from any of the many manufacturers available today and not have to treat it like a second, or third, hobby.
But the state of the 3D printing movement isn’t what I want to write about today. I want to talk about how 3D printing is changing the manufacturing process.
I don’t need to tell you how 3D printing works. Most of you understand that already. Let’s talk about what it is doing for the drone industry as an example. I can tell you that I own several products that were produced for my 3D Robotics Iris+ via 3D printing. 3D printing is allowing all of the people out there with a good, or even great, idea to produce that idea at an amazingly low cost and in hours rather than weeks or months. For example, say you had an idea for a part that would allow you to use several different types of cameras with just one brushless gimbal. You design the part, print it out on your 3D printer (probably using the Fused Filament method as it is the most common right now as well as most affordable) OR you send your design to any of the many online 3D printing companies and have them print it out for you. You have just brought your idea into the world in a couple of hours on your own printer, or days if you sent it out.
Think about that for just a minute. I think we kind of take for granted how simple 3D printing has made realizing a product. Several years ago you would not have been able to bring your idea into the world unless you convinced, or sold your idea to, a company that it was something that the world cannot live without. Then, they would have re-engineered it, found someone to manufacture it and then start selling it at some insane price! Today, we can cut out the old school manufacturing processes that used to take so much time to bring a product to market. It’s really an amazing leap when you stop to think about it.
I want to give you an example of someone who is using this very method to produce aftermarket parts for the hobby drone industry. The man’s name is Ian. His company is IMP Concepts. Ian comes from a manufacturing background himself. He knows all about the old school way of doing things. In fact, he used some of the old school methods with NEW materials, like carbon fiber, to manufacture parts for high-end sports cars, like Porsche and Lotus to name two. You don’t produce and sell parts for those two car companies if you don’t know what you are doing.
Today, Ian has been bitten by the drone bug like so many of us. And like me, he also flies a 3D Robotics Iris+. Ian saw a few things that he thought he could improve on with the Iris+ and decided to do just that. He makes a lot of different parts for the Iris+. For example, he makes a replacement battery door that allows you to access the connection without opening the battery door every time! He made replacement wiring retainers as well as wider and lighter feet for the tall landing legs that makes the Iris+ more stable when lading.
Ian isn’t just making parts for the Iris+ though. He makes all kinds of parts for different aspects of the drone industry. In fact, the idea that I mentioned earlier about a part that allows you to use multiple cameras with one brushless gimbal, that was Ian. He has designed many camera adapters to fit the standard Tarot T-2D V2 brushless gimbal turning it into an affordable alternative to owning a gimbal for each camera! To see more of what Ian has to offer, please visit his site by clicking HERE. Be sure to tell him that you found him by reading a small part of his story here!’
I’ve already told you about another product being manufactured via 3D printing. In fact, it was my very first product review on the site. I’m talking about Elmir Husetovic and his 2 axis brushless gimbal made for the Sony line of action cameras. His story is much like Ian’s but different still. Elmir used the 3D printer he had to manufacture something that the drone industry was lacking. He has made it possible for people to use something other than a GoPro on their drone if they so choose. This is a perfect example of why 3D printing is so good for the manufacturing industry as a whole. If Elmir had pitched this idea to large scale manufacturer, they would have passed on it. The reason, there are not enough people out there looking for this product to warrant the cost of producing it. 3D printing changed that completely and has given people like Elmir a way to produce their amazing ideas on a small scale.
3D printing is transforming the manufacturing industry as a whole. It’s effect can be seen in any number of areas. I used drones because that is what this site is about. I used Ian & Elmir as examples because I personally own products from both of them. Seeing what these can do now, can you imagine what manufacturing will be like in another 3 years?! What about 5? Or 10?!! The future is here and it’s amazing!
Thanks for your time everyone and always FLY SAFE!