Team:StanfordBrownSpelman/Building The Drone


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Stanford–Brown–Spelman iGEM 2014 — Amberless Hell Cell

  • Harvesting a pure bacterial cellulose sheet.

  • Experimenting with cellulose material shape.

  • Layering cellulose to create thicker leather, see here at the back of the hood.

  • Variable thickness elements and experimental fragment attachment methods.

  • Spreading a cellulose sheet out to dry.

  • Mycelium drone chassis, modeled and 3D-designed by our team, produced by Ecocative.
Starting Small, Ending Big
We began by experimenting with producing cellulose in sheets and cellulose acetate non-biologically. Seeing that primarily cellulose materials are extremely strong and tough, but tear easily and becomes soggy when wet, we sought to increase the durability of the cellulose by grinding it into pieces to create a cellulose paste (that became spreadable into sheets like paper made from wood pulp) and stretching and twisting it into ropes to add strength. A few of our material samples follow:

A spiral rope made by waving together several cellulose sheets and dehydrating them.

A piece of cellulose leather generated by laying multiple sheets of cellulose together in perpendicular orientations.
While experimenting with cellulose-based materials, we also explored traditional starch bioplastics to compare material functionality. Here is an example of a starch bioplastic that we produced synthetically in the lab:

Common starch bioplastic, which is more voluminous but less strong than bacterial cellulose. Starch bioplastics, like bacterial cellulose materials, suffer disintegration when wet.
Realizing that cellulose acetate is tough but thin, our team was in need of a building material that was durable and lightweight. So, we reached out to Evocative Design, a pioneering fungal-mycelium-based biomaterial company, to prototype a mycelium form that could serve as the chassis of our vehicle. Evocative shipped us mycelium samples (pictured below), that we skinned in bacterial cellulose.

6" by 6" by 1" sample of Ecovative's lightweight mycelium-based biomaterial.

A piece of fungal mycelium skinned in bacterial cellulose.
Thanks to Evocative, we were able to construct a prototype biological unmanned aerial vehicle!

But we didn't stop there. Our team was enthusiastic about drone design and so we developed concept UAV designs meant to inspire future scientists and designers to think outside the box about how a future, partially living vehicle might look. Pseudo-natural and pseudo-industrial, our drone design references the traditional biological architecture of birds while embracing industrial additive manufacturability.

All 3D printable files for this concept drone are available in the downloads section. Images of our work follow:

Concept UAV Design

Biological UAV Concept, Exploded View
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Designed Parts & Downloads
We succeeded in producing multiple viable chassis designs for mycelium UAV concept prototypes. You can download our basic chassis designs here. If you would like to receive a copy of the designs for our more involved, final UAV concept (pictured above), then please reach out to us! We would love to share our work! In the meantime, download and check out our other models below:
Links & References
Interested in what we've been working on and want to find more relevant information? Check out some of the following sites, companies, and people who either aided us in our production of biomaterials or collaborated with us in working to produce a viable biological unmanned aerial vehicle.
Additional Information
Try to avoid having any additional information here. We're trying to keep our site organized, clean, and compelling!
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