Axle Box Innovations Uses Essentium AM Platform

The additive manufacturing platform is being used to make 3D printed fire-fighting drones to help first responders deal with wildfires.

The additive manufacturing platform is being used to make 3D printed fire-fighting drones to help first responders deal with wildfires.

Essentium, Inc. reports that Axle Box Innovations, a public safety technology developer, is using Essentium AM technology to support the development of U.S.-made 3D printed drones for fire management and protection.

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

Axle Box is producing the drone's mid-body using Essentium's HTN-CF25, high-temperature nylon with a 25% carbon fiber reinforced core. Compared to PA 603-CF, it has the highest heat deflection temperatures but also 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 flexibility of the Essentium HSE 3D Printer allows Axle Box engineers to design with complete freedom and speed the development process. New parts are designed in a CAD program, printed and deployed within hours.

“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,” says Blake Teipel, Ph.D., 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,” says Madison Jones, director of additive manufacturing, Axle-Box. “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.”

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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