3D-printed drone tackles agricultural pest control in eco-friendly ways
Soleon, the Italian company behind the unmanned drone, has been working on practical applications for drone technology since 2009.0
When it comes to the industrial application of drone technology we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of practical uses for a device traditionally regulated to capturing cool video for your YouTube channel.
Enter the SoleonAgro: a 3D printed drone created with agriculture pest control in mind, discarding harmful pesticides in favour of an eco-friendly solution intended to stop the destruction of maize stalks.
Utilizing specialized arms created using an additive manufacturing process, the SolenAgro drops Trichogramma eggs, a species of wasp that would eat the Corn Borer otherwise known as the European corn worm. Soleon, the Italian company behind the unmanned drone, has been working on practical applications for drone technology since 2009 and their partnership with Materialize, an additive manufacturing company, helped bring the Agro drone to life.
The drones are designed by Soleon, using Materialise’s rapid prototyping services for testing and design verification in order to get to a working product. According to the Materialize website, the body and three articulating arms of the Agro were printed using Laser Sintering with PA 12 (polyamide) and PA-GF (polyamide filled with glass particles) materials.
“When we came to Materialise for end-use 3D-printed parts, our key requirement was that the parts needed to be lightweight. The design of the drone body was very complex, since we customized it completely for the purpose of an efficient distribution system,” said Michael Überbacher, Soleon’s founder in a blog post.
A lattice structured design allows the Agro to displace weight evenly throughout and the durability of the PA 12 material provides lightweight design without sacrificing any of the structural integrity needed to fly across large crop fields. According to Materialise the PA-GF material is used in places closer to the motor due to it’s higher rigidity threshold, meaning it’s less vulnerable to vibration issue that could throw off any data collection.