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Oct 25, 2014, 10:57 PM
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OpenSwift - 1m 3D Printed (mostly) flying wing

Hi everyone,

I'm new here, please forgive me for posting here to try to generate interest in my project. I know it's not the best of form for a fresh joiner...

I've been seeing university groups design 3D printed R/C airplanes. They do an excellent job of demonstrating the versatility and power of 3D printers. Here are a few example:

First flight of 3D printed plane (2 min 26 sec)

I felt 3D printing the skin of the airplane would add a lot of weight to a design. Also, my desktop 3D printer would not be able to print out very big parts. So, I thought the better way of making 3D printed airplane designs was to use traditional balsa-ply construction techniques. I use a few other materials to finish a model: balsa (skin), shrink wrap (monokote/ultrakote), carbon fiber spars. So my design is "mostly" 3D printed.

The idea is that anyone in any remote location, with a 3D printer a few extra raw materials can produce this flying wing on demand, at the push of a button (some assembly required).

This is a demonstration project to encourage others to follow in my footsteps. I want others to create new designs and release them under open source licenses so other people, such as myself, can eventually 3D print any model they desire from a large library of open source designs created by the community: P-51 models, Spitfires, Cessnas etc...

I'm developing this as part of the OpenRC project which has a few open source R/C car designs but no flying models yet. You can follow us at our Google+ Community page:

The 3D printer STL files and 2D/3D CAD files can be downloaded from here: OpenSwift beta release files . I'm still in the process of building the first prototype, so these files are still in beta form, they may have areas that need improvement.

I apologise for the lack of documentation. If I can generate enough interest, I might create some how-to videos when assembling a 2nd prototype.

Here are some pictures I've taken during my design and assembly process over the last 4 months, enjoy! The plane in the fully covered before fiberglass belly, weighs 650g with servos and 350W motor. Construction is surprisingly light.

Join us in generating more open designs for 3D printers! My printer is a Printrbot Go Large V2. It is perfect for these types of projects with its massive 2'x1' build plate. The printer was donated to me by Brook Drumm of Printrbot to help me develop this project. Thanks Brook (in case you ever read this)!

Let me know what you think of my project (I've been browsing RCGroups for a while, I read the scratch build threads.).
Last edited by circuitgrove; Oct 26, 2014 at 02:05 PM. Reason: adding descriptions and fixing typos.
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Oct 26, 2014, 01:42 PM
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Now it weighs ~730g after a few layers of epoxy fiberglass on the belly (belly landings).

Weight consists of 3D printed frame, carbon fibre spars, balsa skin, Monokote covering, fibreglass belly, 2 9g servos, and 350W motor and folding prop.
Last edited by circuitgrove; Oct 26, 2014 at 02:06 PM.
Oct 26, 2014, 02:20 PM
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This is a cool use of 3d printing. You should check out the new 3D Printing forum here on RCG under Related Topics.
Oct 26, 2014, 02:31 PM
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Woah, I wish I would've posted there.
Oct 31, 2014, 08:26 PM
volare est vivere
ray foley's Avatar
Hi there from Toledo

When will the maiden flight occur?

ciao -rjf
Nov 01, 2014, 12:56 AM
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Hi Ray,

Thanks for the interest. I could technically go now, but i'd like to finish the livery/paint job first. In case I crash, I want nice pictures first hehe. This is my first lifting body design, so hopefully my calculations for the center of pressure were OK.

Last edited by circuitgrove; Nov 01, 2014 at 01:13 AM.
Nov 01, 2014, 04:23 PM
volare est vivere
ray foley's Avatar
Good luck / bon chance!
Nov 05, 2014, 02:59 PM
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noishi's Avatar
great work! Have you built this design using traditional balsa/ply? If so, can you comment on how the weight, strength, stiffness, and other material properties compare?
Nov 10, 2014, 09:10 PM
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Ray, Merci!


I just finished the covering with the base white colour. I'll post an updated pic once I've got decals and such done.

It currently weighs 835g without the battery. I have not built a version of this using balsa and ply. I'm finding the resulting weight to be comparable to a balsa ply model of the same size. By that I mean, the weight isn't that much more than you'd expect for a balsa/ply model. I'd encourage anyone to try this approach, totally feasible.

The wing loading is ~3.25 kg/m^2. My understanding is that this is like a glider's wing loading.
Last edited by circuitgrove; Nov 10, 2014 at 09:19 PM.
Nov 12, 2014, 11:17 PM
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bcredneck's Avatar
after seeing this i need a printed plane it would be so cool to copy the metal framework from a real plane in grey if you did a radial plane you could even use a scale motor mount for a electric motor
Nov 13, 2014, 01:37 AM
KE your cub.
Curare's Avatar
I think there's something wrong with your calcs.

3.25kg/m2 works out to be 1233 oz/ sq ft (US terminology), most sport models (not sailplanes) are in the 10-12 oz/sq ft range.

What's your wing area?
Nov 13, 2014, 07:23 PM
Just Keeping UP
Someone's math is off for sure.

The usual conversion of 2.2#/Kg gives 2.2#/Kg * 3.25Kg/sq m = 7.15#/m^2. A sq meter is 10.76 sq f.

That gives 7.15#/10.76 sq f, or 0.66#/sq f, which is 10.6 oz/sq f.

Nov 16, 2014, 11:35 PM
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nfhill's conversion is correct.

I'm also using the following source for calling the wing loading of 10oz/sqft as glider-like:
Nov 16, 2014, 11:39 PM
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I covered the plane and added a simple colored design to help me see it in the air. I'm thinking of making the maiden flight next weekend.
Nov 17, 2014, 09:42 AM
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noishi's Avatar
Looks great, good luck on the maiden!

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