Exciting development in drone technology
Bill White's journey started over 20 years ago when as a Christchurch engineer he first started designing and building engines. He's now revolutionising drone design.
It’s always exciting when a new client makes contact and Bill White, an Aviation Propulsion Engineer and owner of Aeromotors is no exception*. Having mostly worked in aviation he has also built car engines for Jaguar and the BMW V12. Currently he is designing and building engines for high altitude drones.
The smaller 3-cylinder engine he has re-designed and built is for a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) with a weight of 50kg and aircraft wingspan of 6 metres; it can fly to heights of 18,000 ft and has a cruise speed of 60 knots.
In Bill’s own words “this little engine is now a yard stick for the rest of the industry to catch up with.”
Bill’s aim is to design and build these engines to be proportionally lighter as all drone manufacturers want their drones to fly higher and further.
With Bill’s extensive experience in developing, manufacturing and testing engines, he convinced his clients to go with a 4-stroke engine design despite this engine type being considered to be old technology in the small UAV world. Most drone engines are electric, a 2-stroke engine is inefficient, so Bill’s ingenious 4 stroke engine is leading the way.
Clever drone design takes innovative thinking and people who are willing to take bold steps along the way. Bill’s journey started over 20 years ago when as a Christchurch engineer he first started designing and building engines.
The parts we are 3D printing for him can’t be manufactured any other way and are printed in Inconel 718 (a high temperature alloy) that require high precision especially where mass matters. With rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing this is finally achievable.
When a new client first approaches us we often 3D print a small amount of parts to ensure the part is fit for purpose and sometimes it can take a while to produce the right part. This was not the case with Aeromotors.
It was refreshing to see some great CAD designs specifically suited for our metal 3D printing process. We have printed production runs of manifolds, exhaust mufflers, collectors and more recently some engine sumps.
“I have found RAM 3D to be collaborative, helpful, and interested in the outcome of their work, which is a real attribute in the ongoing design and modelling of componentry that suits their processes. This makes for very predictable repeatability, which is a critical element of series or volume production ” said Bill.
*Want to know a bit more about Bill White? Read more here