Axle Box 3D prints fire-fighting drones

Using Essentium's HSE 3D printing platform to help first responders get to the heart of wildfires

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Axle Box Innovations, a public safety technology developer, is using Essentium HSE 3D printing technology to support the development of US-made, 3D printed, fire-fighting drones – for management and protection. Essentium Inc. is a leading innovator of industrial additive manufacturing solutions.

Engineers at Axle Box are leveraging the Essentium High-Speed Extrusion (HSE) 3D Printing Platform and high-performance, heat-resistant, materials to speed up the development of lightweight and robust drone bodies, that can survive the extreme heat profile of wildfires to support the efforts of emergency response teams.

Axle Box 3D prints fire-fighting drones. Using Essentium's HSE 3D printing platform, to help first responders get to the heart of wildfires.
A drone used to aid in fire-fighting

Most commercial, off-the-shelf, drones cannot be deployed into wildfires (as they are not built to withstand the environment), and the development of bespoke, fire-safe, drones is complex, time-consuming, and costly. Axle Box is using 3D printing technology to solve the strength, speed, and cost obstacles.

Axle Box is producing the drone’s mid-body using Essentium’s HTN-CF25 – a high-temperature nylon with a 25% carbon fiber reinforced core. Compared to PA 603-CF, it has the highest heat deflection temperatures, as well as tensile and flexural strength. Axle Box is also using Essentium PA-CF to produce side covers designed to fail – before the mid-body – without sacrificing thermal stability. The drone platform has exceeded expectations for high-speed impact and overall functionality during demo flight tests.

The flexibility of the Essentium HSE 3D Printer allows Axle Box engineers to design with complete freedom, and speeds up the development process, with new parts designed in a CAD program, printed, and deployed within hours.

Essentium’s HSE 280i HT

“As first responders gear up for fire season, firefighters need nimble, remote-controlled, drones to achieve visual oversight of wildfires in virtually every type of environment – from urban areas to rural deserts. We are excited Axle Box Innovations has chosen our 3D printing platform to enable the development of structurally rugged drones that can withstand these extremely harsh conditions,” said Blake Teipel, CEO of Essentium.

“The speed, scale, and economics of the HSE 3D Printer combined with Essentium’s array of advanced 3D printing filaments are changing the game for the design and development of drone platforms. The HSE has transformed our manufacturing floor, and we typically go from design to production in under four weeks. If we need a new part, we can have one printed and up in the air in a couple of hours. Our first responder customers will benefit greatly from this innovation agility,” said Madison Jones, director of additive manufacturing at Axle Box.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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