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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Wing Fabrication: Conformal Integrated Electronics using Additive Processes
Keywords: Integrated Electronics, Printed Electronics, Additive Processes
Additive manufacturing has seen significant advancements in recent years and is now seeing applications in conformal flight systems with integrated electronics. With on-demand printing and unit level customization, additive processes offer advantages that are either difficult or unrealizable through traditional fabrication. The additive processes used for this project are Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Direct Print, both of which have been shown to be successful for three-dimensional, conformal electronics applications. In realizing the device, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) was chosen for its superior material functionality which is critical for the strength, ruggedness, and low weight necessary for flight. The ultimate goal is the fabrication of an entire flight system composed of both electrical and mechanical subsystems, wherein these systems are integrated in the airframe and surface of the craft resulting in improved performance and novel capabilities. This challenge begins with an example printed wing section complete with an electrical subsystem, a strain gauge constructed through surface-mount components and a printed resistive serpentine.
Eric MacDonald, Associate Professor
The University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, TX

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