Jun 9, 2011
3DPrintingNews
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Selective Laser Sintering takes flight

Scientists at FESTO have unlocked the secrets to the swooping movement of birds in flight.

A revolutionary feat of engineering, the SmartBird design allows it to not only fly but also start and land autonomously – without the help of any additional drive systems-. Inspired by the herring seagull, and boasting
2 meter long wings the SmartBird when left to its own devices can simply glide through the skies or can be controlled through a radio handset.

The robot’s wings can not only beat up and down but also twist at specific angles along their length in the very same way that a real bird’s do. Directional control is achieved through the opposing movement of the Smartbirds head and torso sections which allow for aerodynamic movement and simultaneous weight displacement, while the tail produces lift functions.

Smartbird: Excellent Aerodynic Qualities and Extreme Agility
Realistic: The SmartBird’s wings not only beat up and down, they also twist at specific angles

Packed inside the SmartBird’s torso are the battery, engine and transmission, crank transmission and control and regulation electronics. In order to ensure the SmartBird could float through the air with moderate flapping, it was necessary to ensure minimal use of materials and the lightweight construction, this was achieved through the SLS process which allowed for a functional housing to be constructed at minimal weight – the SmartBird weighs a maximum of 450 grams

So realistic are the movements of the Smartbird that from the ground it would be easy to mistake it for the real thing.

We at Laser Prototypes are excited to see where Rapid Prototyping will show up next!

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