- Reducing part counts by combining different features into a single composite part
- From sketch to fully functional flying prototype in three months
- Winner at JEC Innovation Award, Category: UAV
Rapid Composites (USA) introduced the first fully autonomous and amphibious, IP-67, man-portable vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) tri-copter. The entire aircraft fuselage is molded entirely from Quantum Composites quasi-isotropic carbon fiber and glass materials in fewer than 10 minutes. All parts are formed within matched metal molds in high-speed vertical hydraulic presses. The rugged design is capable of performing in all weather conditions.
Reducing part counts by combining different features into a single composite part
According to Rapid Composites, no other UAV of its kind is manufactured in a faster process from engineered structural composites. The UAV was designed to be waterproof and rugged so that it does not require a transit case. To accomplish these attributes, different material science challenges were solved along the way, which resulted in many new highly valuable patent-pending construction methods that made it possible to reduce the part counts by combining many more features into a single composite part. An example of this effort can be seen in the upper fuselage/combined tail construction, which has only five main components all bonded together into one single monocoque, in contrast to sometimes hundreds of parts.
From sketch to fully functional flying prototype in three months
In three months, Rapid Composites was able to go from a sketch to a fully functional flying prototype. The goal was to develop an unrivalled tri-copter UAV utilizing only a small team of designers, engineers and experienced material science experts on a tight budget and timeline. Industrial designers were tasked to identify voids within the VTOL UAS/UAV market, with the objective to exploit them by capturing a foothold with new technologies never seen before in this emerging marketplace. Rapid Composites wanted a product that could be slung with a rifle strap, required no transit case, no assembly, had unrivalled versatility, could perform amphibious take-off and landing, was capable of carrying a 7-kg maximum payload of anything and could fly for more than 30 minutes.