The commercial-grade Indago Quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone, from Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, is soaring in popularity with law enforcement agencies, defense customers, firefighters, real estate firms, farmers and construction companies.
The high demand stems mostly from the drone’s versatility, range and small, 5-pound, fold-up size, says Miguel Perez, an engineer for Lockheed’s Procerus subsidiary, which developed the drone with prototyping and low-volume production help from Proto Labs.
Perez gave high marks to Proto Labs’ speed and the feedback from our quoting system as being central to the successful development and delivery to market of the drone. The quoting system includes a design-for-manufacturability (DFM) component, which Perez says was key. “The auto-quoting system is amazing. Within a day, you immediately get an answer as to whether you can make the part, whether you need to make changes, etc. And you can do that quickly, upload a new version, and get a part in a couple of days as opposed to a week just for a quote from other manufacturers.”
In addition, he found the DFM analysis served as a valuable tutor, guiding him through various part iterations and eventually leading him to shift from what was originally a 3D printing project to prototyping with injection molding.
Find out more about this project by reading the full case study.