This paper presents a methodology for designing of flapping mechanisms and rapid fabrication using 3D printing (3DP) technique for subsequent application in micro aerial vehicles. A key feature of the present study is constraining of the mechanism weight and aerial vehicle size to stipulated limits while optimising the functional features of flap angle, flapping frequency and lift. These contradictory set of requirements are fulfilled through syntheses involving linkage number, linkage type and dimensions. As geometrical features are intricate and the required quantity is small, 3DP techniques of fused deposition modelling and digital light processing (DLP) of photopolymers are used as fabrication options. Assembly integration studies are carried out using 3DP parts and the practical feasibility of the suggested approach as a potential alternative to traditional injection moulding is established. Performance evaluation of the developed mechanism indicates conformance with design intent. The presented methodology demonstrates a novel avenue for rapid realisation of an important class of flapping aerial vehicles that have wide ranging applications in surveillance missions.
International Journal of Materials and Product Technology 59(3), p.212-228