Creating a large 3D object using the Drone Extruder [Declined]

Topic: The Drone Extruder

Proposal type: Hardware [x ] , Software [x ] , Other [ ] : _________________

Description: The Drone Extruder will have an attached 3D material printer with the purpose of making large scale architectural objects. Using the mission planner software, the Drone Extruder will hover along the paths to each waypoint extruding fast curing air-cement along those paths.

For this project I will need to construct 2 heavy lifting hexacopters with the capabilities of lifting the extruder and the material it will be extruding. The 2 hexacopters will work in a process of substitution. The first drone will begin extruding material. When the battery or material begins to run out, the second drone will be signaled to replace the first drone and continue extruding along the same path.

The first drone will go back to home and be restocked with charged batteries and material to extrude.

To prove this idea, I would like to make a 10’, 10’ pyramid, demonstrating the use of mission planning to produce a piece of architecture.

Planned amount $$ (5000-30,000):

Estimated time for completion: 2 years or less depending on funding.

I think you don’t ask in the good place for those kind of developpement.

Moreover, I don’t think you idea will work. In fact, the flying drone payload is quite light and accuracy isn’t that good to make some precise and repetable 3D printing. Moreover, you will need to deal with air flow from motor on you 3D structure (retractation, etc). So it is not a good usage for drone now.
Using a 3d printer from a robot base, or mobile are will be a better choice…

There are drones out there that can lift 100lbs or more, so an attached clay extruder with loaded material (air-cement) would work. Its just putting all the right pieces together without going over the lift capacity. Air flow could be an issue, but I thought of a solution for that.

There would be a second drone with a wind shield attached to it, blocking and then buffering the extruder drone, so it could go undisturbed along its extrusion path.

Anyways thank you for your feed back, what would you recommend I do to start a project like this?

Just a couple of thoughts.

Lifting weight : why do you have to lift a whole load of print material?
If you are 3D printing something then you are only going to move within a predefined area.
Why not have a ground based supply of print material and pump it to the copter which then only has to carry the nozzle and nozzle control gear and the weight of the tube and it’s contents.
And if you are already running a liner to the copter why not include the power wires?

Precision in Position : the +/- 1m or more accuracy of simple commercial GPS is not going to cut it for laying down printing material.
We have dual frequency RTK GPS, read that as ‘expensive’, which has a tested accuracy of +/-6mm.
So the positional accuracy is going to be the big hurdle here.

What sort of things are you considering it could print?

Would other position locators instead of GPS be an option (there are many in the marketplace)?


Lifting weight:
Originally I imagined a drone attached to a large crane that could supply the material, but that would make the project more expensive and have some limiting factors with more complex architecture in mind. I think what you bring is still the best way, logistically.

Alternative Method:
I think having a drone substitution process would still work and require less infrastructure. You would just need a few people on the ground to change out batteries and refill the printing material, and send out that drone for the next run.

The Precision position problem:

One of the upsides of making larger objects is that the extrusion nozzle will extrude material between 4" and 8" in width instead of millimeters. So the scope is larger and won’t require that level of GPS precision. (hopefully that makes sense) The RTK GPS sounds interesting and I will need to look into that.

I have been brainstorming alternative solutions to the GPS problem. My first thought was to find a piece of leveled land, say 20ft x 20ft. Then place physical markers on each corner of the area.
The markers would emit lasers in a 3D grid for the drone to sense and coordinate with.

There is probably a better method than this, what would you suggest?

Lastly, I want make a 10ft x 10ft pyramid, since I believe that would be an easy design and be cool to watch being made. :slight_smile:

Aside from that I would eventually like to 3d print large vertical gardens and ponds for people.

I don’t think this is a good use of our funds as it has too low a chance of success, and won’t really produce something that helps the ardupilot community.
I think it would be a really fun project, just not something that is suitable for ArduPilot team funding.

I agree that this is not a project that is suitable for ArduPilot team funding, I think its a cool project but not in the scope of our project. Should we mark this as declined?

Certainly approving or rejecting proposals is wanted. Changing the title to begin with a [ACCEPTED] or [REJECTED] would probably be worthy too.