Drone Industry

Discover how additive manufacturing can be a game-changer for your drone project!

How can 3D printing benefit the drone industry ?

Best 3D printed drone projects


Drones or UAV for Unmanned Aerial Vehicle are more and more common. They are now used in several sectors, such as agriculture, military, aerospace, cinema, or security. 3D printing can be a useful tool to create a drone or can help you to begin with your drone project. Indeed, this technology can be used to work on the design and the resistance of the drone. 3D printing enables you to do some rapid prototyping, but it’s also possible to produce a finished drone thanks to 3D printing. Micro drone, pocket drone, FPV quadcopter drone (First Person View), radio-controlled drone, every idea and project can come to life in the world of 3D printing, and that is exactly what we are going to see in this blogpost.

You’ll find a quick overview of the link between 3D printing and drones, as well as a top of 15 of the best drone projects created with 3D printing technology. We are also going to give you some tips to 3D print your drone. You’ll see, it’s accessible to everybody and with our 3D printers, you will be able to achieve great results!

Are you interested by the potential of additive manufacturing for the creation of drones? Learn how to build a drone.

Is a 3D printed drone as efficient as a traditional drone?

Drones and 3D printing are a perfect match! The benefits of drones are more and more attracting for numerous sectors, as it allows to go to areas which are inaccessible for humans. The problem is that a traditional drone can be very expensive if you want a high-quality device. Moreover, it may occur that the quadcopter that you chose isn’t totally adapted to your project and doesn’t have all the features you need. Or on the contrary, the drone can have too many features and you will not use all of them.

The 3D printing industry allows to create your own drone, it’s the perfect way to get a drone customized to fit your needs. It’s is cheaper and the product development process is faster with the additive manufacturing technology. It is possible to create really lightweight drones, little or bigger ones, and even faster ones. 3D printing appears to be a smart choice to develop a drone project.

And if you’re not planning to use 3D printing to manufacture your drone, at least, it is possible to use 3D printing for your prototyping phase.

Now, let’s see in our top the best projects developed with 3D printed drones!

Top 15 of the best 3D printed drone projects

1 – The 3D printed drone project of the Marine Corp

Drones are already well-used in the military sector since they allow the troops to get real-time images of dangerous areas and situations. But the major problem with a drone is its cost. If the drone is broken, it is quite expensive to replace. And even if there’s just a broken part, the budget to fix it can be really high.

3D printed drone

source: https://www.popsci.com/marine-corps-3d-printed-drones

As they were beginning to be unwilling to use it, they looked for another solution. With a more affordable drone, they would be more confident to use it. And here came the solution: 3D printing. To 3D print a drone is way cheaper and fast to assemble. By using additive manufacturing, the entire system that they are planning to use only costs 615 while an individual Raven drone costs 30 000 $.

This 3D printed drone project is the proof that additive manufacturing can be useful in various sector: even the Marine Corp wants to 3D print their drone. It is also the proof that these kind of drones are reliable.

2 – 3D printed drone to save lives during disaster relief

This 3D printed quadcopter drone as designed by Yuki Ogasawara and Ryo Kumeda. The idea of the project emerged after the earthquake that touched Japan in 2011.

During this disaster, nearly 16 000 people were killed and 2 500 missing. The goal of this 3D printed drone is to fly in dangerous zones to find survivors, after a catastrophe, such as an earthquake. These drones could enable emergency services to see images in real time and be more efficient by saving time in the research.

3D printed drone

Source: https://3dprint.com/181435/generative-design-x-vein-drone/

3D printing allowed them to create a model that they could customize and adapt to their project. It has the perfect size and weight for these kinds of conditions, it has an extended flight time, and a reinforced frameThe drone is also capable of carrying thermographic and infrared-imaging equipment, which can be particularly useful to locate people needing help.

3 – UVify and their 3D printed racing drones using autonomous technology

UVify is an american tech company, working on racing drones, robotics, and artificial intelligence systems. Their will is to develop their drones with FPV (First Person View) in the e-sport world. This 3D printed drone is called Draco. Some of the drones created by UVify are raced by professionals in different competitions.

They are according a big importance to the drone design and the rapidity of the drones. They have to be efficient. Uvify wants to create an out of the box drone, specially made for the professional drone racing market.

Uvify Drone

“We used and are still using 3D Printing in our activity: we’re creating at least a new iteration every week thanks to 3D printing prototypes.” said Robert Cheek in one of our previous blogposts.

They are using the 3D printing technology both for prototyping and production. It allows them to get their drone with a fast lead time and get a high-quality final product.

4 – Earth observation with a 3D printed drone thanks to Svarmi

Svarmi is an Icelandic company, specialized in drones as a service, for remote sensing or earth observation. Their clients are architects, engineers, researchers, and any people wanting aerial images.

As their product development is based on their clients’ expectations, 3D printing allows them to be free and customize their drone as much as their customers need it. As this company explained to us: “Other traditional manufacturing methods are too slow and costly for our purposes since we need to be able to have something ready within a week or two. After integrating the new sensors to our drones we test them out with our customers and redefine the requirements if needed to suit the task and sometimes redo the process again by refining the design or selection of sensors.”

These 3D printed quadcopters are the challenging and innovative project of two mechanical engineers. They created 3D printed drones thanks to our online 3D printing service, they state that 3D printing allowed them to save 40% time on their product development process.

5 – CargoCopter 3D printed drones: the future of delivery

Delivery services are more and more requested. Recently, we’ve heard a lot  in the past few years about delivery services that could be using drones in the future. This is now a reality, and it’s the goal of the CargoCopter, a fully 3D printed drone. This drone is able to transport a charge of 5 kg and reach the speed of 150 km/h. It is an efficient drone which aims to deliver goods on a long distance.

3D printing is allowing these KU Leuven researchers to do some rapid prototyping, so they can adjust the design of the drone through the years to finally create this CargoCopter. This drone project may be the future traditional way to deliver goods!

6 – Jarriquez and their 3D printed drone

As for the military or rescuing sector, using a drone is firstly a way to go where humans can’t go. It is also the goal of the 3D printed drone developed by Jarriquez

This 3D printed drone is actually able to find its way with minimal human intervention. This unmanned aerial vehicle can generate a high quality 3D map, and can go in dangerous zones. Why did they chose 3D printing to develop their project? Because it was easy to get an object from a CAD model in a few days only, and with a reasonable price.

Jarriquez Drone with 3D printed part to mount a LIDAR sensor in a classroom

Jarriquez Drone with its 3D mount for the LIDAR sensor

Our solution integrated a LIDAR sensor that could have been used for many different devices. Attaching it to the body of the drone in the proper way was essential for the feature to work. 3D printing gave us the possibility to do it in a record time and at a very reasonable price” added Mathieu Agostinucci, from the Jarriquez team in our previous interview.

7 – A 3D printed drone for rescuing missions

This drone is the result of the work of a swiss-based doctoral assistant Przemyslaw Mariusz Kornatowski. This 3D printed drone is called PackDrone.

This quadcopter can be deployed in rescue missions. It is made to deliver water, food or any first aid equipment to people trapped after a catastrophe.

3D printed packdrone

source: https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/packdrone-folding-drone

A lot of parts of this drone were created thanks to additive manufacturing. It has a particular design: it actually is a folding drone, created especially to be safe and easy to put in a backpack by the teams in charge of rescuing missions.

8 – Blue Robotics and their underwater 3D printed drones

The company Blue Robotics created underwater drones. This crazy project started with a crazy idea: they decided to send a GPS-guided solar-powered robotic boat from Los Angeles to Hawaii.

The industry of Marine Robotics has stifled innovation by keeping the mechanics and technology expensive. With 3D printing people are able to prototype and final manufacture parts inexpensively and quickly. That’s why we chose Sculpteo!” – said Rusty Jehangir, the founder of Blue Robotics

3D printed drone sub

Using additive manufacturing is also a way to get small batches for the parts of the final product, which isn’t possible with traditional manufacturing. This drone is quite a challenging project, as the final result has to be resistant, light, and ready for a special journey!

9- Local Motor and their 3D printed drone connected to its… 3D printed car.

This project is quite ambitious but it is above all managed to see the limits of three different technologies : autonomous cars, drones and 3D printing.

car drone

source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/local-motors-3d-printed-car-now-has-a-drone-because-autonomy/

It is an impressive challenge, driven by Local Motor. The autonomous car is able to drive by itself thanks to a dedicated software. In the meantime, the driver of the car is able to pilot the rc drone to look around with the specific view of the drone. It enables the driver to see eventual traffic jams, or just see the landscape, and explore new areas.

10 –  3D printed drone, created only using 3D printing and laser cutting technology

Most of the time, 3D printed drone projects are using additive manufacturing to create prototypes, and some parts of the finished product.

3D printed drone

Here, the project was to create a traditional quadrotor drone, using exclusively 3D printing and laser cutting. They 3D printed the arms, the motor mounts, and every parts of the drone. It was a success, showing that it is possible to create anything with 3D printers. This drone is extremely light and it is the proof that everything is 3D printable, thanks to all of our 3D printing materials and technologies. Moreover, this project shows the capacity and accuracy of the laser cutting technology.

11 – A 3D printed drone to capture professional images with Hexadrone

Hexadrone is a company based in France, building drones and offering their service to film for TV shows, advertisements or movies. As they are creating high quality filming, they need a stable drone.

As there is actually a weight limitation for drones, Hexadrone needed to use a light material. And that is where 3D printing shows to be a helpful solution. They used our plastic material, and the SLS technology enables them to get resistant and complex parts, perfectly fitting their needs.

Thanks to 3D printing, parts are really quickly available, which means we can test them within a few days, and make changes reactively” said Alexandre Labesse, CEO at Hexadrone.

12 – 3D robotics and My Mini Factory create 3D printed drones

3D robotics and My Mini Factory collaborated on the development of drones and the model Iris+ is one of them. You can then download all the technical STL files with great 3D details, and you can then 3D print at home using your 3D printer, or a 3D printing service such as Sculpteo.

drone 3D printing

13 – The Dark Matter, by Clogworks

The Dark Matter is a drone developed by Clogworks, based on a modularity concept. 

This drone is not fully 3D printed, but is manufactured using CNC Machining, Carbon fibre and 3D printing.  The goal of this Dark Matter project, was to create a drone with a bigger flexibility and a great ease of maintenance. The performances of the drone are quite impressive, all about precision.  

14 – The smallest drone, by UPenn

The 3D printed mini drone made by UPenn, Piccolissimo just has one motor and two rigid bodies. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science developed the smallest flying vehicle. In order to make a really light device, this tiny drone has been 3D printed with really light plastic.

tiny drone

15 – Skeleton x14 quadcopter

The Skeleton x14 quadcopter can be printed by any desktop 3D printers, as its STL files are available online. The design of this drone is quite interesting as it is based on an intricate design mesh. It is totally possible to customize it once you have the 3D files of the drone!

DIY: build your own drone!

You have an idea for a drone project ? Keep in mind that your ideas are 3D printable, and that we can totally help you with this, thanks to the 3D printers of our online 3D printing service. Here, at Sculpteo, an intern created a 3D printed drone from scratch and we are sure that you could do it as well.

As we just saw, it is possible to create a drone using 3D printing and laser cutting you don’t need traditional manufacturing, just 3D printers. First, you will have to use a 3D printing software. If you don’t know which software to use check out our blogpost to choose the perfect free 3D modeling software, adapted to your level of expertise. Some of them are pretty easy to use.

Once your drone is 3D designed, you can choose the 3D printing materials to print your parts. Then, you have to complete your order, and you’ll receive your 3D printed models in a few days. Obviously, you’ll have to assemble the different parts. If you are a little bit crafty and determined, ready to deal with electronic components, motor mounting and camera mounting, you can achieve a great 3D printed drone project.

You want to give it a try ? Upload your 3D model now and 3D print your own unmanned aerial vehicle!

If you want more informations to 3D print your drone, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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