When drones go up, they must come down – as safely as possible.
That’s why AVSS – Aerial Vehicle Safety Solutions, a Canadian aerospace company based in New Brunswick, brought to market a parachute recovery system (PRS) for commercial drones – to enable widespread safe adoption of urban air mobility technologies.
- AVSS relies on additive manufacturing during concept modelling, product development, and marketing and sales for their parachute recovery system for commercial drones. Their demonstration unit must be extremely close to the end product.
- The variety of 3D printing technologies and materials available in Javelin’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre are well suited to producing functional prototypes for different components of AVSS assemblies.
- The quick turnaround and quality of 3D printed components from Javelin helps AVSS move quicker through design iterations, internal and third-party testing, then on to production using injection molding.
As drones become increasingly popular across industries as diverse as energy production, law enforcement, and package delivery, parachute recovery systems are essential to reducing risk and downtime related to flight failure. A PRS is mandatory for flights over people and/or out of the operator’s sight.
The AVSS parachute recovery system has been carefully engineered, undergoing many iterations and comprehensive in-field testing. Though complex, the system is easy to install and use.
Sensors monitor flight conditions in real-time, automatically deploying a parachute when a failure is detected. With a backup option for manual deployment and audible buzzers, the system exceeds the stringent safety requirements of civil aviation authorities around the world.
Breaking prototypes on purpose
AVSS has relied on additive manufacturing during concept modelling, product development, and marketing and sales. Their 3D printing partners are Javelin’s professional services team, working from Javelin’s Advanced Manufacturing Centre in Oakville, Ontario.
“Prototyping is different in this business,” said Josh Ogden, AVSS CEO. “We crash and break and destroy things on purpose. The whole time, we must be mindful that time is of the essence. Javelin is able to respond quickly and make functional prototypes fast.”
The quick turnaround and quality of 3D printed components helps AVSS move quicker through design iterations, internal and third-party testing, then on to production.
Multiple printers and materials help AVSS
AVSS has desktop 3D printers on site and the team is familiar with additive manufacturing. As a growing company, they have not reached the volume requirement to invest in the professional grade equipment Javelin has in its shop.
“We can make small replacement parts ourselves, but we need more robust capabilities when making the demonstration unit. The unit from Javelin is 95% the real thing.”
AVSS has used a variety of additive manufacturing technologies for multiple applications, working with Javelin’s application specialists to determine the best process and material for each. Josh says the different 3D printing materials available solve the problem of needing two plastics.
The material capabilities of the Polyjet process are well suited to rapidly producing and testing complex functional prototypes for different components of AVSS assemblies. Polyjet’s rubber-like materials are used to make prototypes of parts that will be produced in silicon during manufacturing. Components can be made in a number of different shore values, so different levels of firmness and flexibility can be tested.
Colours available when using Polyjet allow for true representation of final production housings and other components that will be injection molded, making Polyjet well suited for concept modelling and demonstration units.
Javelin’s Professional Services team also uses fused deposition modelling (FDM) and multi-jet fusion (MJF) when necessary. MJF was used to produce components for the functional prototypes that AVSS sends for third-party testing, replicating the final product that will be manufactured using injection molding.
Proactive quality control
Josh said he appreciates Javelin’s attention to making quality parts.
“They don’t just hit the print button and ship whatever comes out. Once or twice, they weren’t happy with the print and asked us if they could tweak the design. I appreciated that feedback. They are committed to meeting our expectations through proactive quality control.”
AVSS’s first PRS is compatible with DJI M200 series drones. Their system is the first to be validated as compliant with ASTM international standards for small UAS parachutes (ASTM F3322-18), after independent testing at the New York UAS Test Site. Next up is a parachute recovery system for the DJIM300 RTK. AVSS continues to use Javelin’s additive manufacturing services to complete commercialization activities.
To learn more about AVSS, visit avss.co.
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