BlueHalo’s system has an innovative airframe that was molded using a multi-scale reinforced polymer from Alpine Advanced Materials
ARLINGTON, Va. and DALLAS—An injection molded chassis manufactured using HX5®, a multi-scale reinforced polymer from Alpine Advanced Materials, is a distinguishing feature of the next generation of BlueHalo’s Intense Eye Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platform. The HX5 material was engineered to replace machined aerospace-grade aluminum by making the Intense Eye UAS stronger and lighter with increased efficiency and payload capacity, according to a release from Alpine.
The Intense Eye UAS family is a 750-mm class 4 rotor, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial system for dual use in commercial and military operations. The system’s software and avionics are strengthened by BlueHalo’s “superior artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies, providing unmatched autonomy, communications systems, and swarm logic capabilities,” Alpine said in the release.
“Through our strategic focus on small business partnerships, BlueHalo has worked closely with the incredibly talented Alpine team to develop a lighter, stronger, more capable UAS through injection molding engineering,” said BlueHalo Chief Growth Officer James Batt, in a statement. “The next generation of our Intense Eye UAS product line features this innovative HX5 airframe in combination with BlueHalo’s industry-leading autonomy and AI/ML capabilities, providing new mission-critical solutions to warfighters and expanding opportunities for our commercial partners.”
According to BlueHalo, the next generation of IE-V3 platforms will be the first BlueHalo UAS to incorporate the HX5 injection molded chassis. BlueHalo said it can modify the IE-V3 for custom applications, including autonomous swarming, payload development and deployment, test targets, fire and rescue operations, atmospheric profiling, and education and research, among others.
“This is a victory for injection molded HX5, which is ideal for the drone industry for many reasons,” added David Brantner, CEO of Alpine Advanced Materials, in the release. “Our engineering team worked closely with BlueHalo throughout the process, leveraging all of HX5’s material advantages to create an innovative, tough-to-kill unmanned aerial system designed for complex battlespace environments.”
BlueHalo said its team worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Alpine. The teams collaborated throughout development to optimize the frame design, using mold flow analysis to ensure optimal fiber alignment and strength in critical areas. Their use of the HX5 polymer provides mechanical and environmental benefits, and the injection molding process allows BlueHalo to accelerate production and delivery.
“Through the injection molding process and the high specific strength provided by the HX5 material, we were able to consolidate parts on a 7:1 ratio,” said BlueHalo Sector President and Corporate Executive Vice President Mary Clum, in the release. “Working with Alpine gave us the opportunity to develop an ultra-light and mechanically superior aerospace-grade thermoplastic UAS frame designed for the most capable, versatile, and high-performance applications.”
The Intense Eye product line has been fully designed in partnership with U.S. companies and small businesses, such as Alpine, according to BlueHalo. The company has created an entirely U.S.-developed and manufactured unmanned aerial system that is said to alleviate supply chain disruptions and bolster system security.
The software and avionics within Intense Eye Version 3 (IE-V3), BlueHalo’s most recent UAS in the Intense Eye product line, were reportedly vetted and approved through the Defense Innovation Unit’s Blue UAS 2.0 Cleared List. The combined capabilities of the light, strong frame, along with the intelligent software core and autonomous capabilities, make the Intense Eye UAS an excellent fit for military and commercial operations, the company said.
Alpine Advanced Materials is a designer and manufacturer of custom-engineered parts for demanding aerospace, defense, energy, space, and outdoor applications. The company’s flagship multi-scale reinforced polymer, HX5®, reportedly can be formed into complex shapes and easily coated without sacrificing strength, performance, or aesthetics. Touted as an alternative to “the cost and production challenges associate with aluminum,” it is said to provide “the strength of aluminum at half the weight, with environmental and thermal performance to withstand the harshest environments.”
For more on Alpine’s HX5 material and engineering, see Injection Molded Reinforced Polymer Plays Key Role in Next Generation Drone.