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Shanghai researchers successfully 3D print a Dragonfly ornithopter that flies with flapping wings – 3ders.org (blog)

by • March 6, 2016 • One Comment

Mar 7, 2016 | By Alec

We see rad 3D printed quadcopters all the time, but the reality is that they use a relatively easy aviation method – at very least when you have motors on the market. For millions of years, the animal kingdom has instead relied on wing-power – a technique that scientists have discovered complex to replicate. But, as part of a study on animal flight, researchers of Tongji University in Shanghai have in fact managed to 3D print a Dragonfly ornithopter, that flies by harnessing the power of flapping wings.
If you’ve at any time opened a coffee table book on the history of airplanes, you will have seen the a fewtimes ludicrous flapping machines with that French, English and American inventors endangered their own lives. Jumping off church towers and so on, many of these machines nat any time quite worked. Whilst small, frequently elastic-powered ornithopters (machines powered by flapping wings) were possible, transferring that power to aircraft capable of carrying humans was another matter. There’s a reason why commercial aircraft don’t showcase flapping wings. But, that does not mean we can’t yet learn things of the animal kingdom. Over a period of millions of years of evolution, flapping wings have proved to become the many efficient and widely utilized technique for birds, insects and actually flying complete. In contrast, humans have only been flying for a single centuries, so there’s much we can yet learn.


That is why research professor Shen Hai Jun of Tongji University in Shanghai has been working on small versions that mimic animal flight. The many new outcome of that study is a 3D printed bionic miniature ‘Dragonfly’, that is remote regulated like a quadcopter. It has only accomplished a preliminary test, and showed a great flight performance, showcasing upward and downward movement, hovering and actually an 180 degree sharp turn. The wings are fully capable of making lift and pull, with the electromagnetic allowing free flight. Enough to call it ‘The King of Flight’.
So how was it turn it intod? First the research team performed an in-depth study of a dragonfly’s body structure, to get to grips with how the odd insect in fact functions. This data was subsequently taken to CAD software, where they generated simplified versions of the creature’s wings, veins, head, feet, chest and waist seconds. To this, a few ornithopter showcases were added: fuselage, landing gear, engine mounts and other components, with the trailing of the dragonfly functioning as a rudder. Converted to an STL file, they finally 3D printed all those separate ornithoper parts.

But of course working on such a scale seriously limits your equipment options. Based on past experience, the Dragonfly was equipped with a 7mm diameter brush motor and the corresponding deceleration group as a power source, and 3.7 volt lithium batteries for energy. Infrared two-channel control was utilized for communication, with one channel focusing on wing beat frequency (ie: flight altitude and speed), with the other controlling way. The Dragonfly’s rudder is a homemade miniature servo with solenoid coil with a 4 mm diameter.
After assembly, a 0.1 mm polyethylene plastic movie was glued to the dragonfly veins to form the wings. The accomplished Dragonfly weighs only 15 grams, is 16 cm in length and has a 15 cm wingspan – one of the smallest 3D printed flying machines we understand of. But it’s in addition one of the most tested, as the Dragonfly was taken to the wind tunnel in Tongji University’s small airplane laboratory. The test outcomes show that the power process can turn it into additional than ten grams of lift and pull power, that meet the Dragonfly power requirements of flight. Incidentally, the wind tunnel utilized was the same as utilized by the Wright brothers over a century ago. Recovered by the laboratory, the lift/drag mechanical scale has since been replaced with a additional exact electronic scale.
The outcomes are pretty astounding, and this is one of the many inspiring 3D printed flying machines we’ve at any time seen. Remarkably, it is in fact only one of the sat any timeal 3D printing projects that the professor and his team have been working on. Last year, they turn it intod 3D printed flying completees (based on erythema fins flying complete and white tip flying complete) that in addition went through a series of wind tunnel tests.



“We are the initially in China and the world to directly test 3D printed miniature aircraft in wind tunnel tests. The flying complete’s lift to drag ratio can be maintained at between 5 to 6, that is the upper limit of small aircraft lift to drag ratio for within use. This shows that the two flying completees have great aerodynamic performances,” he said. The team previously in addition worked on 3D printed butterflies, flies, cicadas and additional. “We hope that these 3D printed insects can assist us reveal the mysteries of animal flight and outcome in additional understandledge for human createment,” Shen concluded.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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