Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore and Stratasys Asia Pacific claim to have 3D printed a ready-to-fly drone with embedded electronics using aerospace-grade material.

In 3D printing, embedding electronics can be a challenge, as most will not survive the high temperatures of the printing process.

“One of the toughest challenges was to find electronic components that could theoretically survive the high temperature printing process – we had to add some heat-proofing modifications to the components to ensure they could last,” explained NTU PhD candidate Phillip Keane. “This involved adding new components to the printed circuit boards and also designing custom housings.”

Commercial grade electronics were therefore modified and placed within the drone at the various stages of the printing process. They survived the high temperature printing which reached more than 160°C, compared to the usual 80 to 100°C.

The drone was completed in under 14 hours and can support more than 60kg of weight.