Aerospace

Titomic partners with TAUV to develop 3D printed soldier-enabled drones

Titomic, an Australian industrial additive manufacturing company, has announced a defense agreement with TAUV, a manufacturer of lightweight military-grade armor, to produce “ruggedised soldier-enabled” Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) using its Titomic Kinetic Fusion technology.

Following this agreement, a prototype 3D printed ruggedised soldier-enabled UAV created with Titomic’s technology has been shortlisted for the Land Forces 2018 Industry Innovation Awards, an international defense exposition held in Adelaide this week.

“Titomic’s first Defence UAV project validates Titomic’s advanced manufacturing capability to produce complex shaped products with improved performance characteristics as well as the advantage of sovereign industrial capability,” said Gilbert Michaca, CEO of Titomic.

Titomic CTO Jeff Lang (left), TAUV Founder Nathan Kalisch (center), Titomic CEO Gilbert Michaca (right) holding the 3D printed titanium UAV prototype. Photo via Titomic.

Titomic Kinetic Fusion

Titomic’s patented Kinetic Fusion technology uses a titanium cold-spray technique developed by the Australian Government’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). This process depends on a supersonic gas jet to fire particles at high speed and fuse to a surface on impact which enables dissimilar metals to combine, forming a complete component.

Shipbuilding company Fincantieri Australia is currently using this technology under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to assess the potential of metal 3D printing for maritime production.

Titomic intends to use its “largest and fastest 3D metal printer,” which was unveiled earlier this year, to manufacture the UAVs. This printer features a 6-axis robot arm and an output size of 9m x 3m x 1.5m and is designed to create large industrial parts such as airplane wings and submarines.

A 9 x 3 x 1.5 meter Titomic Kinetic Fusion 3D printer. Photo via Titomic
The 9 x 3 x 1.5 meter Titomic Kinetic Fusion 3D printer. Photo via Titomic

The tactical UAV market

According to the Teal Group, the tactical UAV market in 2018 is estimated to be worth $545 million. Recognising the value, TAUV, specialists in the integration of electronics for advanced tactical soldier systems, accelerated the testing to production phase of its ruggedised soldier-enabled UAV prototype.

This titanium prototype is designed with improved stability and impact resistance, tamperproof payloads in the hands of enemies, external mounting for easy deployment, and forward scouting capabilities of military training routes. These functions ultimately enhance soldier safety and performance.

Ensuring the operational advantage for its soldiers, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has also created a swarm of 3D printed autonomous micro drones known as Perdix as well as the TERN military delivery drone.

Titomic believes that its award nomination for its titanium UAV prototype project validates its technology’s potential applications in one of its target industries.

“This prototype of a Titanium soldier-enabled UAV manufactured in Australia is just the first step into a market with significant export potential,” added Michaca.

The next phase of testing of the ruggedised soldier-enabled UAV in titanium will take place in Adelaide.

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Featured image shows the Titomic and TAUV team with the 3D printed titanium UAV. Photo via Titomic.

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