What can we say but, “Wow!” As you heard Cliff mention in the video, we first found out about the Vortex from Atlanta Hobby when we met up with him at FlySafe in Las Vegas last year. He said – on video, no less – that he'd make one for us in yellow and black, the high-visibility color scheme that we use on our own homemade aircraft.
After we got back from Vegas, we didn't hear from him for a while. It turns out that yellow 3D printing filament is very hard to find – at least for the million-dollar, aerospace printer they use to produce the Vortex. However, Cliff never gave up and eventually this truly gorgeous aircraft showed up on my front doorstep.
Cliff, thank you ever so much – it's a thing of beauty and we'll fly it with pride. As I've said about RQCX-3 “Raven” many times before: they can have her when they pry her from my cold, dead fingers.
The Vortex is also a vindication of sorts for me and my design philosophy when it comes to multirotors, and a “win” in my column for a long-running debate between Techinstein and myself about the best way to design one of these aircraft.
Techinstein prefers to make the aircraft weigh as little as possible, based on the reasonable assertion that – everything else being equal – the aircraft that weighs less will fly longer. I, on the other hand, believe that aircraft construction should be substantial and robust – relying on larger motors, propellers and batteries to offset the additional weight.
Clearly, the Vortex demonstrates the advantages of my approach...
One other thing worth noting: I don't have much experience with 3D printing, but Techinstein told me that the resulting objects can often be somewhat fragile or brittle. I even noticed he seemed reluctant to pick up the Vortex and heft it around. However, by the time we were done with this video, he told me that he was surprised by how sturdy the Vortex is – much moreso than he would have expected.
I'm certainly not qualified to say, but I do know about the exacting standards that aircraft components are required to meet before they are deemed “airworthy,” so my assumption is that the pieces coming out of an aerospace 3D printer are much more robust than those produced by a conventional system.