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DS Smith Plastics Manufactures Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) Drones for Quest UAV

Quest UAV ―a UK manufacturer of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) based in the North East of England and customer of DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products saw the benefits of refining its foam made vehicles with moulded EPP foam.

Quest UAV originally ordered large expanded polypropylene (EPP) blocks from DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products that were later cut down to the size and shape of their drones using a programmed hot-wire. Further refinement was then done by hand using other cutting techniques. Producing detailed parts by hand is labor intensive and sometimes experienced a large amount of reject parts. As with any handmade product, consistency and precision is difficult to achieve, more so given the intricate nature of the UAVs and the weight restrictions that govern the drones and aerial vehicles.

The Challenge

Quest UAV required a new moulded foam design that would speed up manufacturing and assembly, reduce weight, and improve consistency. For this task, they approached DS Smith Plastics’ Foam Products, to develop a new base framework design for their Data Hawk model that would improve part consistency, allow for push fit of electronic parts, and reduce overall weight.

Our Approach

For this project to work, clear and regular verbal communication between DS Smith and Quest UAV’s design teams was essential. This ensured that any changes made to the design used moulded foam and could be manufactured on our existing machinery. Designs went back and forth until both parties were happy.

To make the parts lighter, unnecessary material was removed and sharp edges were given a radius which also helped to make the design more aerodynamic.

The Results

The final design’s production was cut from 28 hours to 4 minutes. The new moulded EPP design is lighter than previous model, stronger with a more robust skin, smoother for a more aerodynamic surface and shape. Furthermore, by having a moulded EPP foam body, Quest UAV has improved the consistency of the final product.

By working closely with their customers, DS Smith Plastics, Foam Products was able to provide a superior solution that will continue to successfully yield impressive products using moulded foam.

About Quest UAV

QuestUAV Ltd is a UK based manufacturer of small, fixed wing unmanned aircraft (sUAV) that carries sensors including high-resolution cameras, infrared, thermal, multispectral and video surveillance.

Their UAVs operate in the sub 7Kg category and benefit from a hand launch system that allows them to operate in a large range of territories and climates.