ElectraFly is teaming up with the Utah Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Initiative (UAMMI) to create 3D printed carbon fiber parts for its eVTOL aircraft.
According to a press release, the partnership will leverage expertise developed by UAMMI under a contract from America Makes, the national accelerator for additive manufacturing and 3D printing. For the past two years, UAMMI has been using the Impossible Objects composite-based additive manufacturing (CBAM) 3D printer to fabricate legacy aircraft parts for the U.S. Air Force.
The CBAM technology uses carbon fiber sheets and thermoplastic materials to produce carbon fiber reinforced plastic components under heat and pressure in a similar manner to compression molding. The resulting parts are said to be half the weight of aluminum, with comparable strength-to-weight ratios.
UAMMI will now use the same technology to print components for ElectraFly, an aviation startup headquartered near Salt Lake City that is building a hybrid-electric personal flying vehicle. Founded in 2017, ElectraFly aims to develop “scalable innovations” for urban air mobility applications including package delivery as well as personal transport.
“Teaming with UAMMI to transition our complex metal parts to lightweight 3D printed composite parts will support our innovations and help expand our operations here in Utah,” stated John Manning, ElectraFly co-founder.
“The CBAM printer is ideal for manufacturing parts for urban air mobility aircraft because the technology of layering composites ensures strong, lightweight composite parts and the digital agility of building different part families on-demand,” added Jeff DeGrange, chief commercial officer for Impossible Objects.
The UAMMI and ElectraFly team plan to begin their collaboration immediately. Their first objective will be to replace the ElectraFly aircraft’s metal gears with composite fabricated parts, with additional parts to be added to the program over time, they said.