The maiden flight of a lightweight camera drone developed using Hexcel HexPly carbon fiber prepregs has been successfully completed. The development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) is a key emerging market and innovation space in the transportation sector.
The composite drone was developed by a team of students from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, Wels/Austria, with composite materials supplied by Hexcel Neumarkt. A team from the lightweight construction and composite materials course was responsible for the complete design, engineering, and manufacture of the camera drone over a period of 18 months. Hexcel materials and optimization of the composite engineering enabled the team to reduce the composite structural mass by 42% compared to similar drones.
Hexcel Neumarkt, a subsidiary of composites company Hexcel Corp., Stamford, CT/USA, was one of 8 industrial partners supporting the university team throughout the project, providing all carbon fiber prepreg materials used for the drone’s landing gear as well as the fuselage. The ultra-lightweight 32g landing gear was laid up and cured in the press, whereas the fuselage was autoclave cured using Hexcel HexPly M901 and HexPly M78.1 prepreg resin systems with a combination of woven and unidirectional carbon fiber reinforcements.