Personal Helicopter: Utah Non-Profit 3D Prints Parts for ElectraFly

electrafly prototype

You know you want one – your own personal helicopter.  Clean fuel, no traffic, and the coolest transportation in your city.  Just like the prototype developed by ElectraFly, an aviation company working to expand drone technology and urban air mobility concepts to personal flying vehicles, for transportation and package delivery.

The Utah-based company is collaborating with the Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI), who will 3D print carbon fiber aircraft parts.  UAMMI is a public private partnership designed to assure the growth and continuity of Utah’s advanced manufacturing industry.

Under a contract from America Makes, UAMMI has been using the Impossible Objects Composite Based Additive Manufacturing (CBAM) 3D printer to fabricate legacy aircraft parts for the Air Force. “The CBAM technology is a novel additive process that uses carbon fiber sheets and thermoplastic materials to produce Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) components under heat and pressure in a similar manner to compression molding.  The resulting CFRP parts are half the weight of aluminum but have comparable strength to weight ratios,”says UAMMI.

Building on the success of the Air Force project, UAMMI will now use the CBAM technology to begin printing parts for ElectraFly personal helicopters. UAMMI and ElectraFly‘s first goal is to replace the vehicle’s metal gears with fabricated composite parts.

“The market for Urban Air Mobility aircraft, which is on-demand urban transportation aircraft carrying from 1 to 8 passengers, is forecasted to be 430,000 vehicles over the next twenty years,” said Dr. Tulinda Larsen, Executive Director for UAMMI. “Using lightweight 3D printed advanced materials will be essential to meet the manufacturing requirements for this emerging industry,” she added.

The ElectraFly personal helicopter is a single person, hybrid-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) multicopters.

“There is an undeniable movement happening in air transportation, but there are problems in efficiency. Teaming with UAMMI to transition our complex metal parts to lightweight 3D printed composite parts will support our innovations and help expand our operations here in Utah,” said John Manning, co-founder of ElectraFly.

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Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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