Industrial Drone Parts Manufacturing Challenges and Solutions with Real Case

industrial drone part manufacturing

As large-scale industrial and critical infrastructure like energy, mining, and oil & gas increasingly adopt autonomous drones, manufacturing high-quality, precisely machined drone components is becoming paramount.

These industrial drones are equipped with AI-powered navigation and operational software, and setting new benchmarks in data-driven analytics, safety, and operational efficiency. The development of autonomous drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) makes custom drone parts that meet the stringent demands of heavy industrial applications more critical than ever.

How Industrial Drone Design for Better Manufacturability?

Designing industrial drones for better manufacturability, particularly for large-scale industrial infrastructure, involves a focused approach prioritizing structural integrity, vibration and noise mitigation, and precision component integration. This streamlined design perspective is essential to meet the demands of the drone industry, especially when manufacturing custom drone parts and components.

Structural Design

The structural design of drones intended for industrial use, particularly in machining drone parts, focuses on load-bearing capacity and agility. For larger UAVs, truss structures, known for their strength and lightweight, are often utilized in machined drone components. The design must prioritize aerodynamics for efficient flight performance, especially when these autonomous industrial drones, with their intricately machined components, are used for tasks like aerial surveying and inspections in large industrial settings.      

outdoor industrial drone

This design process involves carefully modeling and analyzing flight dynamics, structural integrity, and fluid-structure interactions, ensuring that machined drone components fit seamlessly into the overall drone architecture. Various types of drones, such as fixed-wing, rotary-wing, and flapping-wing systems, must be considered to ensure optimal efficiency and endurance in their respective applications, reflecting the precision and expertise in drone component machining.

Vibration and Noise Mitigation

Excessive vibration and noise can significantly impact the precision and quality of machined drone components. Focusing on mitigating vibration and noise is critical in machining drone components. Utilizing high-quality bearings minimizes friction between moving parts during the drone components machining. These bearings extend the operational life of the machinery used in drone parts machining and provide stability.

Select appropriate bearings and ensure continuous, uninterrupted operations in drone parts machining, to revolutionize drone operations in manufacturing settings.

Precision Components Integration

The high-quality bearings of autonomous drones are essential for minimizing friction and enhancing the drone’s load-bearing capacity. Drone manufacturers can ensure stable and controlled movements of rotors and propellers with precision bearings. This approach enhances the manufacturability of autonomous drones and solidifies their role in the evolving landscape of autonomous industrial drones.

What are the Challenges of Industrial Drone Manufacturing?

Industrial drone manufacturing faces multifaceted challenges, including material selection, precision in assembly, and adapting to high-mix, low-volume production.

1. Material Selection for Drone Components

The suitable material for each drone component is crucial in industrial drone manufacturing. One of the primary challenges in material selection is balancing the need for lightweight materials with the requirement for strength and durability. Materials must be light enough to enhance flight efficiency and endurance and robust enough to withstand environmental stresses and the rigors of industrial applications.

drone camera frame

Common materials for machining drone parts include high-strength aluminum alloys and advanced composites, which balance weight and structural integrity.

Industrial drones are often tailored for specific functions, such as inspection, surveying, or payload delivery in rugged environments. This customization requires a careful selection of materials that can meet specific performance criteria. For example, materials for a drone designed for thermal imaging might differ significantly from those selected for an industrial drone used in heavy payload delivery due to differences in operational demands and environmental exposure.

Manufacturers can optimize performance, durability, and cost-efficiency by matching each material for appropriate drone component machining.

2. Tolerance and Precision for Assembly

In industrial drone manufacturing, achieving precise tolerances in the assembly of machining drone parts is a critical challenge. Micro-vibrations are more pronounced when machining smaller drone parts, which leads to achieving a mirror finish on smaller components is more challenging.

To mitigate micro-vibrations during drone parts machining, the following strategies can be employed:

  • Anti-Vibration Mounts: Use mounts made of rubber or gel for drone parts or other sensitive components to dampen vibrations.
  • Damping Pads: Foam or rubber pads are placed between the drone frame and its components to absorb and reduce vibration transfer.
  • Machine-Tool Stability: Ensuring the stability of the machine tool, as higher RPMs can increase the risk of vibration. Selecting cutting speeds carefully to avoid vibration-prone speeds.
  • Experimental Testing and Vibration Simulations: Performing tests and simulations to understand and mitigate the effects of vibration on drone components.

These measures help reduce the micro-vibration impact on the precision and assembly of machined drone components, thereby enhancing the overall quality and performance of industrial drones.

3. High-mix low-volume (HMLV) Manufacturing

High-mix low-volume (HMLV) manufacturing in the drone industry requires adapting to diverse, small-quantity production, posing unique challenges. This approach, prevalent in custom drone manufacturing, demands flexible production processes due to the varying nature of drone components and customer requirements.

The main challenge in HMLV is establishing flexible automation. Unlike traditional high-volume systems, HMLV necessitates rapidly reconfigurable production lines. This has led to the adoption of collaborative robots (cobots) and sophisticated software for efficient production line changeovers. These technologies are essential in managing the diverse component requirements of drones.

In essence, HMLV in drone manufacturing hinges on balancing customization needs with efficient, cost-effective production, often employing advanced automation to stay competitive in a dynamic market.

Case Study of Machining Industrial Drone Parts

There are different sectors in industrial drones, which include motors, transmitters, batteries, cameras, frames, landing gear, propellers, and more. As a manufacturer of CNC machining, WayKen helps designers and engineers produce these mechanical parts quickly with CNC turning and milling capabilities. Especially for other mechanical parts like camera frames, battery housing, and motors, WayKen is a suitable supplier to work with.

Camera Housing Parts Machining

Let’s check out how WayKen got the drone camera housing made.

1. Consideration of Camera Housing Parts Machining

The housing/frame design of industrial drone cameras takes full account of the complexity and harshness of the use environment to ensure that the camera can work stably and provide high-quality data under all kinds of harsh conditions.

drone camera housing

The designer considers the following points:

  • The housing is designed to be robust and able to withstand impact and vibration to protect the precision components inside the camera;
  • It has good sealing to prevent water and dust from entering and meets the IP standard;
  • There may be heat sinks or cooling holes on the housing to help the camera maintain a suitable working temperature in high-temperature environments;
  • Some of the camera housings are designed to be modular, which makes it easy to replace and maintain the camera and its related parts quickly.

When CNC machining, we also need to fully consider the use requirements of these parts and choose the appropriate machining process and surface treatment.

2. Material and Processing Challenges

The material is Ti6Al4V. Titanium alloys are widely used to manufacture structural and engine components and are ideally suited for key components of UAVs due to their lightweight, high strength, high temperature, and corrosion resistance.

Structurally, the body of the housing can be machined on a CNC 3-axis milling machine. But there are features on almost every surface, so we need to flip the part five times to complete machining the features. This involves clamping and positioning. Our engineers need to optimize the machining process and milling route by fully considering the accuracy of the positioning. In addition, we need to use a T-tool to machine the part because there is an undercut on the inside surface (marked in red).

drone parts machining

In a nutshell, multiple flipping, clamping, and positioning are complex machining processes that pose considerable challenges to machining. We have achieved high accuracy of parts by optimizing the machining process and setting reasonable tolerances in machining.

3. Surface Roughness

The overall surface roughness of the entire part is required to be Ra1.6. The top and bottom surfaces have seal grooves, because the part needs to be hermetically sealed (a sealing rubber will be tucked into the groove), these two seal grooves need to be Ra0.8 or better. This means that we need to use a fine milling cutter with a small radius to machine the grooves slowly, and the machining time will be greatly increased accordingly. Of course, the roughness tester can not reach the groove bottom because it is too narrow, so we mill on extra material using the same end mill to test the roughness instead. In the end, we were able to achieve a surface roughness of Ra0.6-0.8 for the seal grooves.

4. Precision and Tolerance

In addition, the positional accuracy of the holes in the part is particularly important for assembly. Therefore, the design of machining routes and setting tight tolerances are particularly strict. This ensures that the parts produced can be installed well with the assemblies. The dimensional tolerance of the parts is mostly ±0.05mm, and some are even ±0.025mm. This requires precision CNC machining to ensure accuracy. With high-speed machines, Wayken makes parts with high precision.

Machining Frame Section of the UVA

drone camera frame

In the frame section of a UAV, most of the parts are structural components that are used for support and connection. These parts are used to connect the arms, fuselage and other major structural parts of the UAV, so the control of dimensional accuracy is crucial. Through strict tolerance fit and high-precision machining, the precision fit between parts can be ensured, reducing assembly difficulties and the risk of loosening, and improving the overall performance and reliability of the UAV.

Regarding the rotary shaft and bearing hole fit, if the machining precision of the shaft diameter and bearing hole ID is not high, it may lead to problems in assembly.

Wayken ensures that their diameters meet the design requirements by improving the machining accuracy of the holes and shafts, which allows the parts to fit tightly and ensures smooth rotation.

1. Dimensional Accuracy of UVA Frame

Dimensional accuracy is a key factor in ensuring reliable assembly of components, solid overall structure, and optimized performance. During the machining of parts, it is necessary to use high-precision machining equipment and processes and strictly control the tolerance.

hole and shaft machining

The part above is an output link. In this order, the customer did not ask us to machine the shaft to which it was to be assembled, nor did he provide the mating part. In this case, we have to ensure the machining accuracy so that the tolerance of the 28mm diameter hole falls on h6. The h6 has a very high tolerance for a hole-shaft fitment and requires precision machine tools to achieve this.

It should be noted that after CNC machining, the parts are anodized black. The anodizing process includes an acid bath, and this process, if not well controlled, will affect the dimensional accuracy of the part. So we also need to strictly control the anodizing process.

2. Quality Inspection

During the inspection phase, the machined parts are inspected using precision measuring tools and machines to ensure that the actual dimensions are within tolerance.

After the surface treatment, we tested the dimensions of the parts again to ensure that the delivered parts could meet the tolerance of h6. In addition, some areas of the parts have to be Ra0.8, which we can see from the inspection report, is also achieved.

high precision Zeiss CMM

Wayken is equipped with high-precision Zeiss CMM, which is used for the inspection of GD&T.  

WayKen's Capabilities to Custom Drone Parts

At WayKen, we specialize in meeting the unique needs of the drone industry, particularly in custom drone parts manufacturing. Our expertise lies in on-demand manufacturing, a critical capability for producing low-volume, high-variety drone parts.

To handle High-Mix Low-Volume (HMLV) manufacturing challenges, WayKen rapidly adapts to changing customer needs and design specifications, offers bespoke solutions that align with the dynamic demands of the drone industry, ensuring each part we produce meets rigorous standards of quality, precision, and functionality.

industrial drone camera design

Drone manufacturers require precision-crafted components, and WayKen can efficiently produce a wide range of custom parts without compromising on quality or increasing costs, making us a valuable partner for both industrial and autonomous drone manufacturers.

Application of Autonomous Industrial Drones in Different Fields

Autonomous industrial drones are revolutionizing various fields with their versatility, offering efficient solutions in inspection, public safety, mapping, and surveying, thereby enhancing operational accuracy and safety.

1. Public Safety Monitoring

Drones equipped with thermal imaging are transformative in firefighting. During forest fires, drones can bypass natural obstacles and swiftly scout regions, helping to establish firelines and prioritize targets. They swiftly scan vast areas, pinpointing individuals in distress with high-resolution digital and thermal cameras.

Besides, in law enforcement, drones rapidly provide real-time aerial insights, crucial for mission situational awareness and collision reconstruction. Utilized for mapping crime scenes and accidents, drones capture detailed 3D evidence quickly, improving safety and response times, and proving essential in congested or hard-to-reach areas. Drones used in Wildfire

2. Drone For Industrial Inspection

Autonomous industrial drones are revolutionizing industrial inspections across various sectors. They are extensively used for power lines, gas and oil pipelines, communication towers, and solar panel and wind power energy inspections. Equipped with specialized sensors, they identify leakages accurately and rapidly, ensuring timely and safe decision-making.

In emergency scenarios, drones document damage and create precise models to optimize repair efforts. Their ability to provide detailed inspections from a safe distance, coupled with the capability to digitize results, makes them an indispensable tool in modern industrial maintenance and safety protocols.

3. Autonomous Industrial Drone for Aerial Mapping

Autonomous industrial drones can also be used in aerial mapping and surveying, particularly in land surveying and urban planning.

They efficiently collect geographic information, streamlining data processing and reducing operational costs. Drones generate precise, geo-tagged data quickly, processed by photogrammetry software into standardized outputs like 2D and 3D models. This technology integrates seamlessly with local geographic information systems, aiding urban planners in visualizing results effectively.


Drone solutions in aerial surveying optimize data accuracy and resource management, making them indispensable in modern urban development and land management projects.


The autonomous industrial drone industry, a pivotal segment of the broader drone industry, rapidly transforms large-scale industrial and critical infrastructure sectors. Integrating AI-powered navigation and software enables these drones to operate independently, enhancing efficiency and safety in various applications like public safety monitoring, industrial inspection, and aerial mapping.

Key to this technological evolution is the precision in machining drone parts, where companies like WayKen are pioneering in custom drone components machining and assembly. With challenges in material selection, tolerances, and adapting to high-mix, low-volume production, WayKen can balance the performance, durability, and cost-effectiveness of drone parts machining.

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