The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Unmanned vehicles

Currently Active: 

There are a number of research projects being undertaken in this field. The photograph below shows the range of vehicles being produced at the University Southampton. This ranges from underwater vehicles to very high altitude vehicles and rotary winged aircraft.

Project Overview

Range of unmanned systems
Worlds First "printed" aircraft

A particular interest of the group is the development of 3D "printing".

The group produced the "world’s first printed aircraft" called SULSA(Southampton University Laser Sintered Aircraft) shown above.

This aircraft featured in a New Scientist video, find this at 3D printing, the worlds first printed plane.

This aircraft was manufactured without fasteners from nylon powder. The photographs below show parts after the manufacturing process. This uses a laser to melt and consolidate the nylon powder into complex shapes in a sophisticated and accurate machine. After the process the waste nylon powder needs to be blown out to be re-cycled.

The university has now built a number of aircraft using rapid prototyping techniques such as laser sintering/ 3D printing ranging from SULSA with a 1 metre wingspan to aircraft with over 3 metres of wingspan.

Removal of waste powder from parts
Range of 3D printed aircraft

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