ISS Aerospace Revolutionises UAV Industry with Additive Manufacturing: Cost-Effective Solutions and Rapid Prototyping Propel Innovation.

At a glance

  • Weeks long lead times reduced to hours
  • Resilience to supply chain disruption
  • Outsourcing costs eliminated
  • Manufacturing costs significantly reduced
  • Robust, quality components
  • Rapid iterative development
  • Comprehensive support from Mark3D (

Why does ISS Aerospace use Additive Manufacturing? 


Additive Manufacturing plays a pivotal role at ISS Aerospace, offering cost-effective in-house solutions for rapid prototyping, producing strong, lightweight parts and ensuring low lead time production. 

In the dynamic aerospace sector, where innovation is imperative, this technology provides a crucial advantage. 

The risks associated with outsourced manufacturing have long been documented, with disruptions in the supply chain leading to increased costs and long delays. 

Early on, ISS Aerospace recognized that an overreliance on external manufacturing could result in missed opportunities and extend the lead times on their products. 

They also spotted that there were high capital costs associated with traditional in-house manufacturing, whereas Additive Manufacturing with Markforged technology provided both the cost-effectiveness and agility they needed. 

For ISS Aerospace, the advantages provided by 3D printing can be found in many areas, as Ryan Kempley, CEO & Founder of ISS Aerospace, points out. 

Rapid Iterations, Reliable Components 

The practical application of 3D printing is also evident in other key areas throughout the design and manufacturing process. 

This includes the swift production of end use parts for prototypes and concept UAVs, product test equipment, experimental rigs, assembly fixtures, and the WASP UAV. 

Additionally, the technology enables rapid changes to component designs and provides a quick response to evolving requirements and applications, particularly in areas like payload integration. 

Moreover, ISS Aerospace leverages 3D printing for manufacturing reliable, end-use components with excellent mechanical properties and a high-quality finish, exemplified in the Sensus M airframe and the structural reinforcement that can be achieved with Markforged‘s patented composite 3D printing technology.

As Luke Reed explains further: “One great example of how bringing additive in-house has helped ISS Aerospace is a standard battery handle. Previously, it would have taken us around a week to turn one around via an outsourced 3D print supplier. 

The supplier would have taken a few days to process the job and we would have to brief them on how it was intended to be used, so they could make it in the best way. Then it took a few days for them to print it and 2 more days to return the final product to us (which we’ve known go missing in the post)!” 

Luke also points out: “If the requirements were for a metal part this would have taken much longer than a week, and cost much more too. The lead times associated with machined components are much, much longer. 

We’ve been able to swap out machined aluminium components for 3D printed parts with continuous fibre reinforcement. They prove at least 10x cheaper and are much quicker too”! 

Ryan Kempley, CEO & Founder of ISS Aerospace commented

“In the early days of ISS Aerospace, we used to outsource all of our 3D printing. Now, thanks to Markforged, we have taken control of our manufacturing process by bringing it in-house and can create robust, customer-ready parts. With the support of Mark3D UK, who maintain our fleet of printers, we have established a dependable manufacturing chain for our UAV airframes.“ 

Why did ISS Aerospace choose Markforged printers? 

The choice of Markforged printers is central to ISS Aerospace‘s Additive Manufacturing strategy. The combination of well-designed hardware, proprietary composite materials, and the cloud-based Eiger software forms a powerful trio. 

The ‘Digital Forge’ as it is known, simplifies the 3D printing process from start to finish. In an expansive landscape of 3D printers, the consistent performance of the Markforged printers stood out. These printers not only offer reliable operation but also provide a comprehensive support infrastructure should ISS need it. 

The vast majority of routine maintenance is performed by the team, and for support on troubleshooting Mark3D UK offer assistance. The Markforged ‘Digital Forge’ is commended by ISS Aerospace for its simplicity and effectiveness, providing all the necessary tools for achieving repeatable and reliable results, without overwhelming users with unnecessary settings. 

ISS Aerospace also use the unique capability of Markforged printers to reinforce structural components with continuous fibres, which increases the tensile strength and versatility of components manufactured. 

Overall, the strategic integration of Additive Manufacturing, and particularly the continuous fibre functionality found with Markforged printers, empowers ISS Aerospace to navigate the challenges of the aerospace industry with agility and efficiency. The rapid iteration of strong, lightweight components, fitted to award winning products, is the new baseline. 

What does the future hold for ISS Aerospace?

ISS Aerospace are a forward looking company; they never sit on their laurels and are always looking at improving their products and services. 

As their CEO Ryan Kemply points out: “In the fast changing, ever challenging world we operate in, agility, short lead times, and unique solutions to real-world problems are key to winning. The Markforged machines have certainly helped us do this”. 

ISS Aerospace plan further investment in Markforged technology to keep up with an ever growing order book, and to remain competitive in today’s market.