In order to produce the X100, Gatewing uses a combination of manufacturing processes, and for parts that need the extra advantages provided by Additive Manufacturing and Vacuum Casting, they come to Materialise.
The Gatewing X100 unmanned aircraft is the world’s fastest and easiest to use remote sensing solution. As such, it is set to revolutionize the surveying and mapping industry and become the tool of choice for rapid terrain mapping. The lightweight aircraft has been designed to carry a camera payload and flies in a straight and regular scan pattern and returns the data to its operator safely and fully intact. What’s more, thanks to its aerodynamic design, clever body structure, and carefully chosen materials, the X100 is ideal for day-to-day handling and intensive usage in a wide range of weather and environmental conditions. The X100 is the kind of product that gets people at Materialise excited, so we enjoy the opportunity to manufacture parts for Gatewing using our range of solutions and services.
The Making of the X100
In order to produce the X100, Gatewing uses a combination of manufacturing processes, and for parts that need the extra advantages provided by Additive Manufacturing and Vacuum Casting, they come to Materialise. The process here begins with Additive Manufactured prototypes (in this case, using FDM and Laser Sintering), a step which guarantees that the parts are ideal for the finished product. When the design is finalized, a master copy is then created using Stereolithography and put into production with Vacuum Casting. This process was undertaken for the camera ring, e-box, body cap, and frame of the X100. For a useful little PA cap however, both the prototypes and the final product are manufactured with Laser Sintering.
A Design that Keeps Up with the Latest Technology
By manufacturing the camera ring, e-box, and body cap with Materialise, as opposed to using injection moulding, Gatewing is able to seamlessly integrate new technology into their aircraft with little extra effort or cost. The high initial investment involved in injection moulding is no longer an issue when Additive Manufacturing and Vacuum Casting are used to create a finished part. For example, if the latest and greatest camera does not fit into the camera ring, the digital design can be adapted to fit around the new lens and be ready for production in time for the next order to be delivered. A special electromagnetic resistant coating is also added to the inner side of the parts to give the electronics the extra protection that they deserve.
Furthermore, as opposed to injection moulding where only great volumes bring down the price per part, at Materialise, the low initial investment allows Gatewing to get the best part at the best price whether it is an order for 1 part or 1000 parts. Combined with the ability to adapt the design as needed, this allows Gatewing to meet the growing demand for their aircraft, integrate the latest technology, and still offer the X100 at a very attractive price.
The Manufacturing of a Low-Weight, High-Quality Frame
Anyone in the aerospace industry knows the incredible importance of weight when designing an aircraft. For the X100, by incorporating Vacuum Casting into the frame (with 3D printed PA Caps ensuring that the material stays out of the carbon tubes involved), Gatewing can keep weight to a minimum while still achieving the strength needed. Moreover, Materialise has an in-house solution which ensures that every frame produced meets the strictest quality standards and is a perfect fit to the aircraft’s outer casing.
The Sky is the Limit for Gatewing and the X100
With parts for Gatewing’s X100 leaving Materialise’s production facilities on a monthly basis, we are constantly reminded of how great this product really is and are proud to be involved in in a process that constantly evolves. We are already looking forward to seeing what the future will bring for this incredible product and the company behind it.