AMRC expertise takes flight at London's British Design Museum exhibition

12 October 2015

The University Of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing is having work shown at the British Design Museum in London for the first time.

Chris' exhibition 'Aerial Futures' at the Design Museum in London. Credit Andy Stagg.

Three 3D printed Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV's), or drones, manufactured by the AMRC's Design and Prototyping Group (DPG), are on display as part of the Design Museum's annual 'Designers in Residence' show. This year the exhibition has invited four designers to reflect on the theme of migration.

Chris Green is one of the lucky chosen designers to have space in the exhibition. An architectural designer by trade, Chris has an interest in urbanism and emerging technologies.

His exhibition 'Aerial Futures' explores positive and imaginative uses for drones and the ways in which drone technology could become part of our everyday lives in the coming decade. Speaking about his exhibition, Chris said:

"Three distinct narratives explore how drones may infiltrate and become part of different environments. Through full-sized 3D printed prototypes and a series of short films, Aerial Futures invites the visitor to explore what these worlds could look like, and question how we are going to shape the future of our urban skies in the next decade."

Chris heard about DPG through the Knowledge Transfer Network, the UK's innovation network, who had recently visited the design, prototyping and testing centre at the AMRC.

The centre is home to the world's first fused deposition modelled (FDM) ABS flying wing designed by the group. The group have also designed, manufactured and flight tested a prototype drone airframe constructed in a combination of ABS plastic and carbon fibre composite, using FDM technology to develop both finished parts and tooling.

The DPG helped Chris realise his vision for three 3D printed drones with different urban applications such as a personal companion in the home, as an autonomous farming system across the urban roofscape and as environmental data-gatherers that mimic nature.

Chris supplied the CAD designs for the drones and DPG adapted these to suit the manufacturing processes, engineered the models onto 3D printing machinery and manufactured the final prototypes now on display in the Design Museum.

A close up of one of the drones at the exhibition. Credit Andy Stagg. 

The process involved developing methods to create complex unsupported structures with the 3D printing equipment and engineering the fits for the wings of one drone so they held in place at different positions. Chris said about his time working with the design and prototype group:

"Working with the AMRC has been an opportunity to explore what the future of drone technology could look like, using today's cutting edge 3D technologies. As well as being an incredible tool with which to design a prototype, additive manufacturing techniques are set to become increasingly common in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, which the AMRC is well positioned to engage with."

Dr Andy Bell, who led the activity for the AMRC's Design and Prototyping Group said: "It is hugely significant that our group, noted for our developments in 3D printed UAV technology, now has work on display at the British Design Museum.

"It is a great honour to have the talents and capabilities of the group on show as part of Chris Green's exhibition at the UK's biggest platform for design innovation. It shows that we are at the forefront of UK manufacturing design and creativity."

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