A team of six students in the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria’s lightweight construction and composite materials course worked with eight industrial partners to design and build a camera drone over an 18-month period. The project is part of the Lightweight Design and Composite Materials degree program, which FACC launched in cooperation with the Upper Austrian University of Applied Sciences in Wels in 2018. The lightweight camera drone recent successfully completed its maiden flight. 

Hexcel Neumarkt provided the HexPly M901 and HexPly M78.1 carbon fiber prepreg materials used for the landing gear and the fuselage of the drone. The prepregs were used in combination with woven and unidirectional carbon fiber reinforcements for the fuselage, which was cured in an autoclave, while the landing gear was laid-up and cured in a press. The use of composite materials allowed the team to reduce the structural mass of the camera drone by 42%. 

“The massive weight saving achieved with their updated version of the camera drone is a fantastic achievement by the student team,” said Michael Rabl, Dean of FH Wels of the Upper Austria University of Applied Sciences. “The joint study not only illustrates the wide range of complex and innovative composite techniques present in the drone sector but also presents the opportunities that exist for further development in the wider Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and aerospace composites markets.” 

Celebrating the success of the student team behind the camera drone project, Johanna Arndt, research and technology group leader at Hexcel Neumarkt, said, “It was a great pleasure to work with the team who were very cooperative and self-motivated to succeed. Watching the drone just fly around the Neumarkt plant was just great.”