Military UAV drones can now be 3D printed

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It looks like 3D printing is really getting more and more popular, what with a 3D printed electric car being yet another possible viable transportation option down the road. Having said that, a research team that hails from the University of Virginia has come up with a 3D printed UAV drone that will see action over at the Department of Defense. This is a labor of love that has been in the making for a good three years, and the UAV drone is no larger in size compared to a remote-controlled plane, and it is capable of carrying a 1.5-pound payload to boot.

We have 3D printed keys, guns and shoes — now a research team at the University of Virginia has created a 3D printed UAV drone for the Department of Defense. In the works for three years, the aircraft, no bigger than a remote-controlled plane, can carry a 1.5-pound payload. If it crashes or needs a design tweak for a new mission, another one can be printed out in a little more than a day, for just $2,500 (£1533). It’s made with off-the-shelf parts and has an Android phone for a brain. “We weren’t sure you could make anything lightweight and strong enough to fly,” says David Sheffler, who led the project. Sheffler is a former engineer for Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce who now teaches at the university. After he created a 3D printed jet engine in one of his classes, the MITRE Corporation, a DoD contractor, asked him to create a 3D printed UAV that could be easily modified and built with readily available parts.

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