Raghavendra Surendra, Anmol Dhandhania, and Pratik M Yerane are ambitious young men who are united by their passion for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Friends and seventh semester engineering students of the same institution—International Institute of Aerospace Engineering and Management (IIAEM), Jain (Deemed-to-be University) —they recently participated in the global Innovative and Additive Manufacturing 3D (IAM3D) Challenge held in Boston, USA. The competition was a part of the annual conference of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The trio’s concept of bio mimicking the flight of an eagle won the runners-up award in the “Best Verbal Presentation” category of the competition.
“We are working on this area of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) design since two years under the name ‘Team PREDATORS’ and have won other competitions such as the third place in a national level glider design competition at Shaastra 2015, IIT Madras, and BNMIT Tech fest,” says an excited Anmol. This experience helped them in developing their idea for the IAM3D Challenge.
“The knowledge acquired from the building of gliders was used in the making of Remote Controlled (RC) Planes. Later we focussed on the topic of aero flexible control surfaces and aero flexible aerodynamics through team research and literature survey. Then we came up with the idea of bio mimicking the flight of an eagle. Initially, we did some computer analysis and simulations with the help of software like CATIA and Ansys,” explains Raghavendra.
After numerous design iterations and trial & error techniques, they were able to fly their first prototype “PREDATOR X2” which was made of Styrofoam and Balsa wood with paper strips attached to the wing functioning as feathers of an eagle. “For the sake of IAM3D Competition, we designed a dimple matrix on the wing and made a complete model, which is modular based and fabricated using Additive Manufacturing or 3D Printing,” adds Raghavendra.
IAM3D, more commonly known as 3D Printing is a new concept, which is capturing the imagination of designers and engineers globally and challenging them to create and redesign products, thereby minimizing energy consumption and improving energy efficiency.
“Our model PREDATOR X2 was completely fabricated using 3D Printing. Through this technology, we were able to achieve a reduction in material and weight by 50% and a reduction in development time by 90% when compared with conventional methods of manufacturing. We have conducted wind tunnel tests of our model at National Aeronautical Laboratories (NAL), Bangalore, and the results showed an overall increase in aerodynamic efficiency. It also showed an increase in range by 3%, reduction in noise produced and a reduction in fuel usage by 5% leading to lower CO2 emissions,” expounds Pratik.
“Any complex shapes or geometries can be manufactured using this technology and the development time of industrial prototypes is less which is the main advantage of this technology. With the advent of consumer-friendly 3D printers, it is finding its use in day-to-day life as 3D Printing products at home may reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing by reducing material use and distribution impacts,” adds Pratik.
International Institute of Aerospace Engineering and Management (IIAEM), Jain (Deemed-to-be University), played a key role in helping them to take part in the challenge. “IIAEM sponsored a partial amount of one lakh rupees to the team towards travel expenditure to the U.S. and we have taken extensive technical guidance from our project mentor Mr. Sulakshan Arya. We are very thankful for the support from the university and are obliged to the kind consideration of our request for funding,” says a gratified Anmol.
The threesome intends to spend more time on UAV research in the future.