Smartflyer is a Swiss startup that is developing a 4-passenger hybrid-electric cruise aircraft that is set to create a “new quality of flying.” This innovative aircraft design is intended to emit 50% less CO2 and achieve a remarkable 60% reduction in noise levels. Despite these eco-friendly features, the aircraft doesn’t compromise on performance, boasting an impressive flight range of 800km.
|SXF1 Hybrid-Electric Cruise Aircraft
|CNC Milling & Turning
|Actuator, bearings, push rods, bellcranks, fuselage mount, rudder mount, etc.
|< 2 weeks average turnaround time for a set of 10+ one-off prototypes
“We started our cooperation with HLH Rapid because we needed a partner which could deliver parts within a couple of days and with good precision,” said Rolf Stuber, CEO and Head of Design of Smartflyer. In order to meet their goal of first flight by 2024, the team decided they need to ramp up prototyping efforts this year. Consequently, waiting on parts that take weeks and months to arrive just wouldn’t cut it, making it crucial to find the right manufacturing partner.
The electric aviation startup is known for its award-winning innovative aircraft concept, whereby the propeller is on the vertical tail of the aircraft, increasing its efficiency by 20-30%. The model consists of many complicated parts. “With complicated parts like that, you can expect that continuous modifications and improvements are needed to be made [to the design], as you don’t always get it right on the first try,” explained Rolf.
Before partnering with HLH Rapid, Smartflyer had sourced CNC milled and turned components from various local manufacturers. Although these manufacturers could meet their strict precision requirements, they often struggled to give timely responses and were taking several weeks, sometimes even two months, to manufacture one-off parts. The inconsistent supply of test parts led to slow developments and time wasted. Ultimately, Smartflyer found themselves under increasing pressure to meet their scheduled launch deadline. Desperate for a change, Rolf and his team made the decision to give HLH a try, even though the manufacturing facility is located half a globe away from their base in Switzerland.
Upon partnering with HLH Rapid at the start of the year, Smartflyer experienced an immediate improvement in lead times. “When we need to make improvements, HLH Rapid is able to get back with new or corrected parts within a couple of days,” said Rolf.
Below are some examples of custom machined parts HLH Rapid supplied to Smartflyer.
As a small and passionate team committed to working round the clock on the realization of their aircraft, Smartflyer deeply valued having a supplier like HLH Rapid, capable of keeping up with their pace. This was particularly true for their CAD desinger, Daniel Droźdź, that worked closely with HLH’s engineering team throughout the project. “The customer service is top level — we get responses very quickly and they’re always available for us to contact. I would recommend HLH to anyone looking for fast parts and prototyping and manufacturing services,” said Daniel.
Constructing the SXF1 aircraft, like most aviation project, is a very demanding undertaking. The electric propulsion aircraft comprises a wide range of one-off components with varying tolerances, complexity, and stringent parameters to withstand harsh environmental conditions. Given these demanding requirements, speed wasn’t the only thing that the Smartflyer team valued in their partnership with HLH.
“What I personally value in our cooperation with HLH is that they’re able to produce what we need, and we don’t need to conform to lower standards,” said Daniel. Smartflyer has sourced a wide array of aircraft-grade aluminium and stainless steel precision parts, ranging from actuators to bearings and bellcranks. With the advantage of operating 5-axis machines and maintaining an in-house quality control team, HLH has so far been able to meet all machining and quality requirements.
“I’m really looking forward to see the improvement on the aircraft, but most importantly, I’m looking forward to the first flight” said Rolf. Presently, Smartflyer is working very closely with HLH to advance their hybrid-electric plane that is set to take to the skies of Switzerland for the first time in 2024. The aircraft’s development is progressing rapidly and adhering to the planned timeline. With such progress, Rolf expressed his satisfaction, stating, “We are very happy with the cooperation with HLH Rapid.”
Find out how other companies are using HLH Rapid to speed up innovation. Looking to get your prototypes or low-volume production parts made with HLH? Get in touch with our team today through our submission form or at firstname.lastname@example.org.