Issue 55 Uncrewed Systems Technology Apr/May 2024 Sellafield’s UAV equipment l Applied EV Blanc Robot l Battery tech l Robotican’s Goshawk l UGVs l UAVHE RW1 rotary l Roboat UVD l Autopilots l Arkeocean UVD l UMEX 2024 l CycloTech UVD

Blickfeld in Germany has used a new plastic material for its latest lightdetection and ranging (Lidar) optical sensor (writes Nick Flaherty). Blickfeld’s Qb2 is the first smart Lidar sensor able to both capture and process 3D data on a single device. It uses lasers to produce highly accurate 3D measurements for autonomous systems, and the optical carrier is moulded into the ULTEM resin developed by SABIC. In comparison to aluminium, using the ULTEM resin helped to reduce overall system costs, through an integrated part design and easier production scale-up. During the design phase of the Qb2, Blickfeld faced the challenge of miniaturising the design of the optical carrier while retaining its performance. The optical carrier is one of the most challenging parts of the Lidar device as it holds its key optics and microelectronics. The demanding material requirements for this newly developed part include reliable retention of dimensional tolerances in all directions over a broad range of temperatures to support the high optical performance of the Lidar in different environments, as well as low creep for snap-fit assembly. This also helped to reduce system assembly costs, compared with aluminium. ULTEM is an amorphous thermoplastic polyetherimide (PEI) material, available in a transparent version to allow the laser light to pass through. Key for Blickfeld is the high glass transition temperature of 217 C, which allows predictable stiffness and strength up to 200 C. The material is inherently flame-resistant without additives, with a limiting oxygen index (LOI) of 47%, making it difficult to ignite, and it meets the UL94 V0 specifications, with a thickness as low as 0.41 mm, to replace aluminium. It can also be extruded, thermoformed, extrusion blow-moulded and injection-moulded. Flowability permits long flow lengths down to 0.2 mm thick using conventional injection-moulding equipment. “The ULTEM resin offered a clear solution to Blickfeld’s desire of replacing aluminium in their new compact optical carrier. Lidar is a growing market, and our material and design support has helped Blickfeld solve the design challenges of structural applications in opto-electronics,” said Dr David Elvers, business development manager at SABIC Specialties. Optical sensors Plastic protection for smart Lidar Harwin’s connector products are proven to perform in extreme conditions, with shock, vibration and temperature range rigorously tested. WITH OUR QUALITY, SERVICE, SUPPORT, AND HIGHLY RELIABLE PRODUCTS, YOU CAN DEPEND ON HARWIN. CONNECT TECHNOLOGY WITH CONFIDENCE // WWW.HARWIN.COM Harwin UAV Uncrewed Systems March 24.indd 1 11/03/2024 16:40