Australian advanced manufacturing company Titomic has delivered the largest titanium, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Measuring over 1.8m in diameter, the UAV was manufactured at Titomic’s R&D bureau in Melbourne, where it operates the world’s largest, fastest metal 3D printer. Measuring 9m x 3m x 1.5m, the TKF 9000 incorporates Titomic’s patented 3D printing technology, Titomic Kinetic Fusion (TKF).

Given its superior strength-to-weight ratio, titanium provides the UAV with a strong, lightweight, ruggedised design and ballistics protection, which will provide durability for reliable in-field use by military and law enforcement and is well-suited for deployment in live combat situations. As titanium’s use is often prohibitively expensive and difficult to fabricate using traditional methods, the prototype demonstrates Titomic’s ability to utilise high-performance materials such as titanium, in applications that previously did not overcome a manufacture cost-benefit analysis, forcing manufacturers to use lower-performance materials in design, such as heavier metals or fragile plastics.

The technology is widely applicable to the defence industry and can also create parts such as armaments, traditionally created through metal casting, resulting in reduced production time and increased output.

Titomic Managing Director Jeff Lang stated: “We’re excited to be working with the global defence industry to combine Australian resources, manufacturing and innovation, which will increase our sovereign capability to provide further modern technology for Australia and its defence force”.

Co-developed with and licenced from the CSIRO, TKF is a patented metal AM process utilising supersonic deposition of metal powders to digitally manufacture metal parts and complex surface coatings of super alloys and dissimilar metals such as nickel, copper, scandium and alloys such as stainless steel, inconel and tungsten carbide. With the unique ability to fuse dissimilar materials, Titomic has unlocked opportunities to engineer parts and surface coatings unobtainable via other manufacturing methods. With the ability to incorporate multiple materials into single, heterogenous parts, TKF enables production of parts that exploit the mechanical benefits of multiple high-performance alloys concurrently.