Blended Wing Body Capstone Project

The rundown

Our team is aiming to design, optimize, build, test and fly an Additively Manufactured Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) with a Blended Wing Body aircraft (BWB) configuration. Our design will break new boundaries within the aerospace industry as the first blended wing body UAS created with this type of manufacturing technology.

Using the geometry of an existing model airplane, we will redesign and expand its mission profile and payload capabilities through airframe design optimization, adopting a new powerplant, avionic system and control system. The airframe will be optimized by applying the concept of lattice structure designs, a strategy that is at the forefront of aerospace development. This lattice design will allow our aircraft structure to be lightweight without sacrificing its engineering properties.

This year is the inaugural year of our capstone project. We have estimate that our project will have duration of 3-4 years in activity, but the knowledge gained from our results will be permanent.

Background

The aerospace industry is constantly evolving as new technologies are developed and materials become available. One of the newest technologies is that of additive manufacturing (3D printing). Currently, there is very little manufacturing completed within the aerospace industry by this process. With that being said, additive manufacturing does allow for significant design improvements as it can create parts with a very high precision. This project will contribute research and help the process of moving Additive manufacturing into aerospace.

Another concept that we are looking to further understand is that of a blended wing body, commonly known as the flying wing. This is a configuration used only on military aircraft and a little for UAS like the one we are designing. The configuration would have a lot of benefits if it were to be used on high payload commercial aircraft. It has already been proven that the design would decrease an aircraft’s weight while increasing its volume. In the commercial aviation industry, this would allow for significantly more passengers to travel using a similar amount of fuel. However, the configuration has structural issues when flying with a high payload and under high pressure. This project will be able to further examine the structural forces by a high payload.

Rollout

As this is the first year of our project, we believe that we are establishing the basis for accomplishments moving forward. With all of this responsibility, our team has taken on a large amount of scope to complete for this year. This includes both the wind tunnel and flight-testing of scale and similar drone models as well as the additive manufacturing of our entire UAS. Starting from scratch, the materials and equipment we need for all of these components will cost us a large amount of funds. Without more funding than the original $2,000 budget given to us, very little progress can be made on our project.

We have estimated that the total cost of our project will be approximately $14,000. Of this cost, $8,902.04 is the 3D printing material alone. This cost was determined using the volume of material we will need of 4230 cm3 and multiplying it by our quoted material cost of 1.83 $/cm3. Without funding for the cost of this component, we will not be able to make much progress on manufacturing our design this year. Another major costs will be our design’s motor. Our team has sized the Hacker Q80-6L V2, a motor that costs $650, as the power plant for this design.

As a result, our team will use the funding received from Future Funder to fund our 3D printing and motor costs. We have set our funding goal of $9,500, enough to cover both components.

Impact

Our design, named The Peregrine, will be the first UAS of its kind. It will be initially developed as a baseline aerial system with the aim to serve as a platform for advanced teaching and research at Carleton University in areas of aircraft new configuration design, aerospace materials and structural design optimization, stability and control, avionics, aerodynamics, among others. The research conducted and data gained during our project will impact the aerospace industry for years to come.

Another impact our project will have is the enhancement of Carleton University’s presence within our industry. We have been able to grab the attention of Bombardier Aerospace, a major aircraft manufacturer to our project as they have agreed to be our industry mentor. As a result, our team will be executing design reviews with a panel of their technical experts. To succeed in this environment, we must show enormous progress in the testing and manufacturing of our UAS. We will also be visited by the president of Romaris Aerospace, a local UAS design firm to review our progress during the duration of our project. Upon completion of the UAS, our team shall release our success to the engineering industry. This accomplishment, due to additive manufacturing’s wide range of applications, is sure to gain a lot of technical praise and publication.

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