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3D Printed Drone Cargo box

The requirements: Custom made drone cargo box that meets specific criteria:

Bright Mind was approached by Falcon Eye Drones, a leading drone service company in Dubai, to design and 3D print a drone cargo box to be used for TRA Dubai (Telecommunications Regulatory Authority - Dubai).  The cargo box will be used to hold mobile phones and power banks that will fly to different regions in Dubai.  The phones will have SIM cards from different telecommunications companies to test their signal coverage in different regions in Dubai.

The design criteria of this cargo box:

  • Weight: The cargo box is to be mounted on a small commercial drone; the weight of the cargo box was specified to be no more than 600 grams.

  • Strength: The cargo box will be carrying valuable items, so it has to be strong and durable

  • Function: The drones might move rapidly, and items inside must be firmly secured.

  • Environment compatibility: The drone will fly in hot and sunny weather, and the cargo box must be built for that environment.

  • Lead time: The client needed the box to be designed and fabricated within 4 working days.

  • Looks: The client wanted a cargo box that is aerodynamic, and that goes nicely with the shape of the drone

We took all of this criteria into consideration, and used 3D printing to fabricate the drone in the photo below:

3D printed drone cargo box.jpg

Why to use 3D printing and not any other method:

The first step is always Design.  We used AutoCad Inventor to design the 3D model of the cargo box, and pitched the CAD files to our client.  After we got approval on the design, its time to fabricate the model! 

The cargo box can be fabricated in many different methods including manual carpeting, wood CNC, and fiber glass.  However, non of these methods would have enabled us to meet all the design criteria mentioned above; manual carpeting would have introduced possible dimension inaccuracies, wood CNC would force us to use heavy wood which will make the product heavy, and fiber glass would require high cost and high lead time.  For this project 3D printing seemed to be the only way we can transfer the cargo box 3D design we made to a physical product within all the design criteria above.  We used FDM 3D printers to 3D print the model in pieces, then connected the pieces together and post processed the cargo box to get the final product.

The dimensions of the 3d printed drone cargo box above are (30✖20✖25) CM

How 3D printing helped us in meeting the criteria requirements:

Through 3D printing we managed to meet all of our client's criteria:

The design criteria of this cargo box were met:

  • Weight: With FDM 3D printing, we can control the 3D printed part's infill (how much material there will be inside the part).  doing so allowed us to run a simulation and calculate the model's required infill to achieve the desired weight.  The product was printed with 18% infill.

  • Strength: There are a variety of material available for FDM 3D printing.  For example: PLA, PETG, ABS, HIPS, Nylon, ..etc.  We chose to 3D print the model with PETG plastic as it had two important properties: strength, and low warp printing.

  • Function: To insure that the items inside the cargo box (the phones and power banks) will stay in place and secured as the drone maneuver, we designed vertical slots inside the cargo box.  These slots acted as barriers that prevents the items inside the drone box from moving and disconnecting: 

3D Printed Drone Cargo Box - Lid

  • Environment compatibility: The cargo box was made from PETG plastic which has good heat resistance which would prevent the product from deforming under the hot summer sun in Dubai.  However, raw PETG reacts to the sun's UV rays.  The product was coated with UV resisting coatings to insure the material is stable under the sun rays.

  • Looks: The client wanted a cargo box that is aerodynamic, and that goes nicely with the shape of the drone.  we designed the cargo box with fillet edges making it easier for air to flow around the product in flights.  The design was also sanded and smoothed down to achieve a nicer feel.  After that, the product was post processed and coated with professional paint.  The result was a final product that met the design criteria of our client, and delivered in a time and cost efficient manner.

We are thankful to our client for sharing a review about this project.


" Bright Mind are very service oriented, it was a pleasure working with them and seeing how much care they put into their work "

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