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What are drones made of? (Materials and components explained)

Updated in 2023 by Paul Posea
What are drones made of

A few years ago, the word "drone" wouldn't ring a bell in most people's minds. Now, these awesome gadgets have become so popular that almost everyone knows what they are. 

Sure, not everyone will be able to tell you about what drones are used for (but hey, my grandparents can!) or how they work, but it's safe to say that most people know what a drone is.

But there's one question that even drone owners and passionates might not know the full answer to: What are drones made of?

We've covered a ton of topics about drones here on DronesGator.com, from basic topics like "How much does a drone cost?" to more specific top rankings and guides, and today it's time to dig a little deeper. Let's talk about the different materials that can make up a drone, the differences between them and why all these matters for you as a user. 

What is a drone?

A drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that can be controlled remotely or autonomously. 

It can provide aerial video footage and perform tasks like search-and-rescue missions, surveillance, delivery of packages, racing, etc.

Drones have a long stretch of history until it evolves to the contemporary ones we see and use today. Modern drones come in different shapes and sizes depending on the application they’re meant for. Because the size, weight and durability of UAVs are so important, the materials used when manufacturing them are also crucial for the best results. 

So whether you're an international brand like DJI or a drone enthusiast who wants to build their own quadcopter, some basic knowledge about drone anatomy will come in handy.


What are the components of a drone? 

Let's start with the components. First, I'll list the most important parts of a drone, and then I'll go into details about each of them, emphasizing what they're usually made of. 

Components of a drone:

  • Frame
  • Motors
  • Propellers
  • Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs)
  • Flight Controller
  • Battery 
  • Radio Transmitter and Receiver
  • GPS Module 
  • Camera and Gimbal 

Body (Frame)

The body of a drone, also known as the drone frame, is the main structure that holds all the components together.

Some common materials used for drone bodies include lightweight plastics such as ABS, polycarbonate, and polypropylene. Carbon fiber is also a popular choice due to its strength-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for high-performance drones. Aluminum, titanium and magnesium alloys are also commonly used in drone frames for added durability. 


Drone motors are the electrical components that power the propellers and enable the drone to fly. Drone motors are typically made from metal, such as aluminum or steel, for durability and heat dissipation. The internal components of a motor include copper wire windings, magnets, and bearings. 


Something has to lift the drone in the air, right?
Drone propellers, also known as rotors or blades, are the rotating components of a drone that generate lift and enable it to fly. They work by spinning rapidly when powered by the drone's motors, which creates a downward force that lifts the drone off the ground.

Propellers can be made from various materials such as plastic, carbon fiber, metal and even wood. Yes, wood! It reduces vibrations, and thus it makes the drones more stable.
Plastic is still the most common material used for drone propellers due to its lightweight and affordable nature.

Carbon fiber is another popular choice for high-performance drones as it is stronger and stiffer than plastic while still being lightweight. Metal propellers are less common but may be used in heavy-lift drones or industrial applications where durability is a priority.


Drone batteries are the power source that provides energy to the drone's electronics, including its motor and propellers. They are typically rechargeable lithium-ion or lithium-polymer batteries, which offer high energy density and long life cycles.

Lithium-ion batteries consist of a cathode, anode, electrolyte, and separator. The cathode is typically made from lithium cobalt oxide, while the anode is made from graphite. The electrolyte is a non-aqueous liquid that allows for ion transport between the cathode and anode, while the separator prevents a short circuit from occurring.

Lithium-polymer batteries are similar to lithium-ion batteries but use a polymer electrolyte instead of a liquid one. This makes them more flexible in terms of shape and size, which can be useful in compact drone designs.

Both types of batteries have their advantages and disadvantages, with lithium-polymer batteries generally being lighter and more flexible, while lithium-ion batteries may offer higher energy density and longer overall lifespan.

Electronic Speed Controllers

Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs) are an essential component of a drone's propulsion system. They are responsible for regulating the speed of each motor by adjusting the amount of current flowing through them. ESCs receive signals from the flight controller and translate them into specific RPMs (revolutions per minute) for each motor. This allows the drone to maintain stability and maneuverability in mid-air, as well as adjust its altitude and direction of flight.

In essence, ESCs act as a bridge between the flight controller and the motors, ensuring that they work together seamlessly to keep the drone flying smoothly. Without ESCs, it would be difficult to control a drone's speed and prevent it from crashing or losing stability during flight. 

Radio Transmitter and Reciever

A Radio Transmitter Receiver (RC) is the device that allows you to control your drone remotely. It consists of two parts: the transmitter and the receiver. The transmitter is held by the pilot and sends signals to the receiver, which is mounted on the drone. These signals tell the drone what to do, such as change direction, increase or decrease altitude, or adjust speed.

The materials used in RC systems can vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Typically, transmitters are made from a combination of plastic and metal components, while receivers may use circuit boards and other electronic components.

Why are materials important when buying a drone?

When it comes to buying a drone, materials matter more than you might think! Choosing the right materials can impact everything from durability and flight performance to weight and cost. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Durability: Drones are often subject to crashes, collisions, and other mishaps that can damage their components. Investing in a drone made from durable materials like carbon fiber or reinforced plastic can help ensure that it can withstand the occasional bump or scrape without breaking down.
  2. Flight Performance: The materials used in a drone's frame, motors, and propellers can all affect its flight characteristics.  It is also best to know and understand how these materials affect each drone's maximum capacities. For example, lightweight materials like aluminum or magnesium alloys can improve speed and agility, while heavier materials like steel may offer better stability in windy conditions.
  3. Weight: The weight of a drone is critical to its performance and battery life. This also affects how fast can drones fly. Choosing lightweight materials for the frame and other components can help reduce overall weight, which in turn allows for longer flight times and better maneuverability.
  4. Cost: Finally, the choice of materials impacts the overall cost of the drone. High-end materials like carbon fiber may be more expensive but offer superior durability and flight performance compared to cheaper alternatives.

In short, choosing the right materials when buying a drone (or components if you want to build a drone by yourself) is key to ensuring that it meets your needs for performance, durability, weight, and cost.

GPS Module

A GPS module is a device that enables a drone to determine its precise location and navigate accurately. It works by receiving signals from a network of satellites orbiting the Earth, which allows it to calculate its position in real-time.

GPS modules can be made from a variety of materials depending on the manufacturer and model. The components used may include circuit boards, antennas, microprocessors, and other electronic components.

In addition to providing location data for navigation purposes, GPS modules can also be used for other functions like geofencing (creating virtual boundaries around specific areas), return-to-home functionality (automatically returning the drone to its takeoff point if it loses connection or encounters other issues), and more.

Camera and gimbal

The camera is responsible for capturing the imagery, while the gimbal provides stabilization and control over the camera's orientation. The gimbal typically consists of motors and sensors that adjust the camera's position in real-time to counteract any movement or vibration of the drone.

The materials used in cameras and gimbals can vary depending on the manufacturer and model. Generally, they are made from lightweight materials like plastic, carbon fiber, or aluminum alloy. These materials help to reduce weight and ensure that the drone can fly efficiently. 

What materials are used, and how do they impact performance 

So, how does each material impact performance?

MaterialImpact on Performance
Carbon FiberLightweight, strong, and rigid. Used in frames for racing drones and other high-performance models. Can enhance speed, agility, and stability.
Aluminum AlloyDurable and corrosion-resistant. Often used in commercial-grade drones for improved longevity and reliability. Can add weight to the drone, which may impact flight time and maneuverability.
Magnesium AlloyLightweight and strong. Used in some high-end drone frames or components for improved performance without adding significant weight. May be more expensive than other materials.
Plastic (ABS)Affordable and lightweight. Used in entry-level drones or parts like propellers or landing gear. May be less durable than other materials, but can still provide adequate performance for casual flying or basic photography/videography applications.
Foam/Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)Lightweight and shock-absorbing. Often used in beginner-friendly models to protect against crashes or collisions. May not be as precise or stable as other materials, but can offer a forgiving learning experience for new pilots.

Here are a few examples of popular drones made with each material in the table:

  • Carbon Fiber: The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 features a carbon fiber composite construction in its propellers, which helps reduce weight and increase efficiency for longer flight times and faster speeds.
  • Aluminum Alloy: The Yuneec Typhoon H Pro is a commercial-grade drone that features an aluminum alloy body for improved durability and resistance to wear and tear over time.
  • Magnesium Alloy: The DJI Matrice 600 Pro is a high-end drone used primarily for professional filmmaking and photography applications. It features a magnesium alloy frame for improved strength and stability without adding significant weight.
  • Plastic (ABS): The Holy Stone HS100D is an entry-level drone that uses plastic materials throughout its construction, including the main body, landing gear, and propellers. This helps keep costs down while still providing adequate performance for casual flying or basic photography/videography needs.
  • Foam/Expanded Polystyrene (EPS): The Syma X5C is a popular beginner-friendly drone that uses foam padding around its propellers to protect against crashes or collisions. This can help minimize damage to the drone itself as well as any objects it may come into contact with during flight.

In the end, each manufacturer will try to optimize their drone according to it's target buyer, while obviously aiming for the best performance at the same time.

How much does a drone weigh?

The weight of a drone can vary greatly depending on its size, design, and components. Some smaller toy drones may weigh just a few ounces, while larger professional-grade models can weigh several pounds or even tens of pounds.

For example, the DJI Mavic Mini weighs just 249 grams (8.78 ounces), making it one of the lightest and most portable drones available. On the other hand, the DJI Matrice 600 Pro weighs over 15 pounds without any additional payloads or accessories attached.

Why is weight important when designing a drone?

Weight is a critical factor in designing a drone for several reasons. First and foremost, the weight of a drone directly affects its flight performance, including speed, agility, stability, and endurance. A heavier drone will generally require more power to lift off the ground and maintain stable flight, which can impact battery life and overall flight time.

Additionally, the weight of a drone can impact its portability and ease of use. For example, smaller or lighter drones are often more portable and easier to transport from one location to another. They may also be easier to maneuver in tight spaces or indoor environments.

Finally, the weight of a drone is also an important consideration when it comes to regulations and safety concerns. Many countries have established laws or guidelines around maximum allowable weights for drones flown in public spaces. Exceeding these limits could result in fines or other penalties, as well as increased safety risks if the drone were to crash or collide with people or objects.

What are DJI drones made of?

DJI, one of the world's leading drone manufacturers, uses a variety of materials in their drone designs, depending on the specific model and intended use case. However, many DJI drones are primarily constructed from lightweight plastic materials.

For example, the popular DJI Mavic Air 2 drone features a body made from an industrial-grade polymer that provides both durability and lightweight portability. The propellers on the Mavic Air 2 are also made from plastic materials.

Similarly, the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 features a body made from high-strength magnesium alloy and durable plastic components. This combination of materials allows for a lightweight yet sturdy design that can withstand the rigors of commercial use.

Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

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paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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