Earlier this week, the developers of the Sprite, a small, durable drone that offers an alternative to larger, generally more fragile quadcopter drones, was presented with the latest Proto Labs Cool Idea! Award, a service grant given to innovative companies.
The Sprite Drone, developed by Arizona-based Ascent AeroSystems, is an ultra-portable drone that collapses to the size of a water bottle and uses a coaxial rotor design (two rotors stacked one atop the other).
Proto Labs’ Cool Idea! Award grant provided injection-molded parts for several iterations of prototype parts for the Sprite. Proto Labs founder Larry Lukis, stated:
“Drones are already playing key roles in a variety of industries, and for military and public safety applications. This particular drone is innovative because of its consumer-friendly design: a smaller size, greater durability and ease of use.”
Jonathan Meringer, one of the founders of Ascent AeroSystems, noted that early Sprite concepts were developed on a consumer-grade 3D printer using PLA and ABS-like plastics:
“While that was great for our initial development, that process didn’t provide the parts with the durability we required…the injection-molded polycarbonate parts (from Proto Labs) represent production-grade quality that’s added a dramatic improvement in everything from flight performance to assembly and maintainability. We were able to build several conforming vehicles that are really close to what the final product will be.”
Earlier this year, Sprite benefited from what Meringer calls “an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign” that wrapped up in June. A total of $406,061 was pledged, far surpassing the goal of $200,000. Meringer says Q2 of 2016 is targeted for when the Sprite will actually reach the market. Current pricing begins at $699.