The dream of building machines capable of independent flight has always existed in the minds of creative individuals. However, it only became possible after the invention of materials that were light enough for the task.
The first planes were made of wood and canvas. Those were relatively light materials that could hold stable flight and even carry a man aboard, defying what the science of the time deemed possible.
As engineers developed a deeper understanding of aerodynamics and figured out ways to balance thrust, lift, and drag forces, they were able to craft planes out of heavier materials such as steel and aluminum. This meant that, for a time, most innovation moved towards more powerful engines that could lift heavier frames. However, this wasn’t a sustainable approach as gasoline-guzzling jets put a heavy economic burden on operators.
So, innovation had to occur in the other direction: lighter materials that required less energy to get off the ground. For decades, carbon fiber products have been at the forefront of the aerospace industry, especially when talking about unmanned aerial vehicles and drones.
Today, most of the components in modern drones are either made of super materials or have been miniaturized to a point where they no longer represent excess weight.
For example, modern batteries store a lot more power but are much smaller than they were a decade ago. This change in size means they can be fitted into smaller carbon fiber drone frames without taking up space or straining the vehicle’s capacities. The same can be said about servos and motors. They’re now lighter yet more powerful, being able to provide more lift with less energy.
These innovations translate to lower costs per pound in terms of overall cargo but also give commercial drone manufacturers the ability to equip their products with powerful components without exceeding the FAA’s limits for requiring special licensing.
Currently, the FAA requires all drones heavier than 0.55 pounds to be registered. The reason for this limit is that heavier drones can cause damage when they crash or might disrupt the flight of bigger aircraft. So, carbon fiber drone frames, rotors, and parts drastically reduce the weight of components while increasing the room for additional features.
For example, more powerful batteries increase operational times, making them able to perform more tasks per charge. In addition, mightier motors can provide a lot more lift and speed, making the drone capable of carrying more instruments or payload and also providing better stability under rough wind conditions.
Hobby or consumer carbon fiber drone frames today allow the user to devote space for action cameras equipped with gimbals and still have enough power for speedy take-offs and longer flight times. Bigger commercial UAVs use carbon fiber drone frames to shave off structural weight, making it possible to add bigger batteries and more powerful rotors that expand their ability to deliver cargo to remote places. But carbon fiber also provides strength and durability, so it can withstand rough landings and still retain structural integrity.
Drones are powered by conventional electric motors that are basically copper windings around a permanent magnet. There is not much that can be done to reduce the weight of these components. However, the use of lighter materials for housing and rotors has dramatically increased the efficiency of electric motors. Moreover, carbon fiber rotor blades maximize strength to resist impacts and wear longer, so they don’t need to be replaced as often. They also have a high rigidity coefficient, making them highly efficient when generating lift power.
Manufacturers in this industry favor high-end composite materials that provide the necessary strength-to-weight ratio to lift and protect delicate components. That’s why they choose Protech Composites as their provider. Visit their website or contact their friendly staff if you want to learn more about how their carbon fiber composites can improve the performance of your products.