Optical Scanning Aids Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Redesign

Australian Silvertone UAV develop, design, and manufacture unmanned aerial vehicles with flexible payload capabilities. One of their drone aircraft systems, the Flamingo Mk3, carries a heavy package of telemetry and sensor equipment.

To improve flight efficiency, the pannier bracket that attaches the sensor package to the fuselage and supports the landing gear had a requirement to be re-designed to a lightweight alternative that retained the same mechanical performance.

Enter Topology Optimization and Additive Manufacturing

The existing design was put through Altair’s design topology optimization software to produce an organic freeform design that satisfied the required loading and boundary conditions. The resulting geometry from topology optimization is usually not well suited to traditional manufacturing methods. However, additive manufacturing producing components via a layer-wise manner and has no limitation on the geometry that can be produced.

Amiga Engineering were contracted to manufacture the topology optimized component. The specimen was printed in Gr23 Titanium on a 3D systems ProX DMP machine in one continuous build. The manufactured component achieved a significant weight reduction – 800 grams down from the original 4 kilograms, improved balance and rigidity, enhanced safety, longer flight times, increased payload capacity and better battery efficiency.

Metrology services provider Scan-Xpress was contracted to measure the manufactured component using the high resolution GOM ATOS Q scanner and to perform critical quality control checks prior to installation. The ATOS Q optical measuring system from GOM is well suited to measuring organic and free form surfaces generated from topology optimization including the pannier bracket. Traditional measuring methods such as tactile CMMs would struggle to measure and obtain enough discrete points to make an assessment of the state of build of components such as the pannier bracket.

The ATOS Q sensor projects a phase shifting fringe pattern across the measuring surface to collect millions of points to generate an accurate 3D model. Scanning was completed with the ATOS Q configured for a 270mm measurement volume. The sensor was positioned in numerous positions all around the component until all the surface had been accurately defined and captured. The generated point cloud was polygonised to create a 3D Mesh in STL format, known as a digital twin. The generated digital twin was compared to the design CAD model and differences were recorded.

Surface Deviations Calculated and Displayed as Colour Plot

The information captured provided Amiga Engineering the ability to validate their production methods and simulations. The captured dada also provides information to modify AM process input parameters for future production runs. This critical feedback provided by the generated data quality was a driving factor for Amiga Engineering to purchase Australia’s very first ATOS Q.

For more information: www.scan-xpress.com.au