Capstone Project:
Innovative 3D Printed Structures for Enhanced Real-Time Prognostic health monitoring for Small Low Cost UAV’s

Mission Statem

ent:   Print-N-Fly’s purpose is to develop a cost effective and easily 3D printed modular UAV structure for rapid design implementation and repairs. This design will incorporate strategically embedded sensors for use in prognostic health monitoring thus enhancing airworthiness via a robust and resilient airframe.

Project Background/Problem: Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (SUAV) are typically custom made or RC airplanes which have been retrofitted with the necessary hardware for autonomous flight. These airframes are composed of foam and other light weight composite materials which require complex manufacturing processes( e.g. carbon fiber, plastics, and balsa wood) . As a result, creating a customized and airworthy airframe requires a large amount of skill and time. 

Our Solution is to develop a method for creating cost effective UAV structures. Using 3D printers, our team is designing an easily printable and customizable UAV structure which is based around a modular design. With an airframe composed of precisely designed modular units, our intent is the ability to rapidly design and repair individual components of the aircraft in the case of damage, and to alter flight characteristics by easily modified units (e.g. longer wing size, short tail, etc.)

To further assist the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the national airspace, our 3D printed UAV structures will be equipped with a means of providing a precise look into the airworthiness of the UAV system.  Using this system, strategically embedded sensors, printed into the 3D structure during manufacturing,  can be used to monitor and log real time flight stresses for post flight review. Additionally, these real time measurements may be implemented for prognostic health monitoring (PHM), which will make corrections to prevent flight failures and protect the payload in the case of imminent failure