Wright State University Propelled with MultiJet 3D Printing

Early prototyping and rapid iterations are key to success

Wright State University in the Dayton, Ohio area, had beginnings using high-resolution 3D printing around 2010 developing an experimental Micro Air Vehicle (MAV). Early this month, the Wright State University Research Institute was awarded a $7.5 million ceiling increase on their 2011 $5 million contract with the U.S. Air Force for the UAV development and testing. Additionally, the contract has been extended by three years to accommodate the additional research, should the research funding be available.

Early prototyping and rapid iterations are key to success and have proven to be a crucial component in future expansion and broader development in research and development situations. Producing accurate and detailed parts in a very short amount of time is achievable with the right equipment and support.

Whereas the MAV project isn’t directly connected to the contract, early adoption of advanced technologies such as 3D printing is groundwork that displays the boldness and confidence to employ new ideas and pioneer the future.

Highlights from WSU’s MAV project (2010) –

U.S. military UAV’s logged 400,000 hours in 2008 and the U.S. Custom and Border protection Agency has employed more than 200 UAV’s for border control.

Although successful, the UAV was not designed to fly in the urban and indoor environments and as terrorism becomes the focus of future warfare, the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission will most likely be executed in those environments. Therefore the MAV, Micro Air Vehicle, offers tremendous potential for both military and civilian uses too dangerous for humans, from searching buildings or caves for terrorists to probing damaged nuclear plants for radiation leaks or collapsed mines for survivors.

[slogan button_text=”” link=”” background=”transparent” ]“The small scale of the MAV requires dramatic change in the air vehicle design paradigm, one as great as that faced by the Wright Brothers a century ago.’ said Dr. Huang. ‘With the extremely small size and fine feature detail, the ProJet™ 3000 is the only 3D printer up to this challenge.” – Dr. George Huang Professor and Chair Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Wright State University, Dayton Ohio[/slogan]

Dr. Huang, an expert in aerodynamics and computational fluid dynamics was recruited to Wright State to develop and implement project based MAV development programs for undergraduate and graduate students. Commissioned by the Air Force and using the science of Biomimicry his team determined that the ultimate flying machine to emulate for a MAV is the dragonfly. To support their efforts and deliver a flight ready prototype like you see in the photographs, Dr. Huang chose the ProJet™ 3000 High Definition 3-D Printer. The team now relies heavily on this easy-to-use 3-D Printer as they iterate and improve the overall MAV design.

The current MAV is about the size of a bird and is flown using a remote control. It is truly amazing to see how fast, maneuverable and lightweight the prototype is with extremely small parts and gears printed by the ProJet™ 3000.

The team has been recognized for their success and is already developing the next generation of their Micro Air Vehicle. With Dr. Huang’s leadership they intend to design a version with an even smaller form factor that will fit in the palm of a hand and weigh about 5 grams.

 Do you think you may have an application for high-resolution MultiJet 3D printing or simply have questions about the technology that need answered? Call us at 855-504-3833