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3D Printed Planes are a Reality

You might think 3D printers are cool and useful for making one off accessory parts, but did you know that you can actually print a flyable airframe?

Splash

Now You Can Print Your Model Airplanes at Home

You might think 3D printers are cool and useful for making one off accessory parts, but did you know that you can actually print a flyable airframe? If I hadn't seen it myself, I'm not sure I would have believed it. I would have thought that a 3D printed airframe would be too heavy and fragile to serve as a functional flying unit, but it works and they fly great. A guy at our local field brought one out and it was so cool to see it fly.

The process to create the airframe is simple and akin to building a model kit. Once the parts are printed, they are ready to be glued in place using CA, epoxy or the adhesive of your choice. The parts should line up and fit perfectly due to the nature of CAD designed parts. The material is easy to work with and if you happen to mess something up, you can just print out a new part.

3DLabPrint has quite a few airframe designs available for purchase. This Czech Republic based company was founded in 2015 and they continue to create new airframes and designs that are both cool looking and fly great. There are obviously some nuances when it comes to 3D printing so they created a FAQ with loads of information about how to have a successful print. All you need is the 3DLabPrint digital 3D files, a 3D printer, PLA filament, and the RC gear to finish out the model. Each plane has a user guide on what they suggest you use. The print files for planes cost anywhere from $20 -$40.

Here's the list of planes currently available:

For more information, visit 3DLabPrint here.

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Mar 28, 2017, 09:51 AM
formontoya's Avatar
great post! glad to see you're coming on board with the latest disruptive technology. this will do what ARFs did for balsa building...just "print it"...break something...just "reprint it". One can even print a motor...just add magnets and wire:
https://www.makesea.com/web/claimer/brushless-motor

now if I could 3d print the servos and esc...
Mar 28, 2017, 10:24 AM
Registered User
Yes, I see this as a great addition to the hobby. Not so much for advancing the performance of affordable aircraft. But for introducing a "newish" technology and bringing it into the shops of many hobbyists.

I look forward to new materials that out perform the balsa, f/glass, carbon fiber type prefabricated kits. And hopefully, the excellent design and support from 3DLabPrint will get serious RC enthusiasts to develop CAD and 3D - rapid prototyping skills on their own.

Great start. Hope it is just the start.
Mar 28, 2017, 11:40 AM
Registered User

composite ?


if you can print these then you should also be able to print molds to make a both strong and light copy of these models.
Mar 28, 2017, 11:42 AM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by SplashCrash
Great start. Hope it is just the start.
You have seen 'nothing yet; soon metal 3d printing will become affordable and then you can print engines, bearing blocks, retracts and lots more.
Mar 28, 2017, 12:21 PM
Registered User
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmulder
soon metal 3d printing will become affordable and then you can print engines, bearing blocks, retracts and lots more.
Well that isn't really new. And it will be a quite a while before the "metallic" rapid prototype will be on par with the properties of high alloy steel, Then there is the matter of high tolerance machining required for the things mentioned. Rapid prototyping is a loooong way from being accurate to within more than about .010". But, someday.
Mar 28, 2017, 03:55 PM
AMA 670207
Rudderman98's Avatar
WOW!

You can literally print any kind of model you wish. One thing they could incorporate into the models they make are locking tabs to lock the wing and fuselage parts together reducing the about of glue and assembly time. So tab, lock, then glue. DONE!

Looks like I need to take up another skill!
Mar 28, 2017, 04:20 PM
Ken's CAD Models
dz1sfb's Avatar
I have built the Stearman, Spitfire, and am in the process of printing the Cessna.

The Stearman is awaiting its maiden flight and finish trimming, while I just got in from the first two flights with the Spitfire. The Spitfire is a fraction of an ounce over 2lbs with a 2200mAh 3s battery. You need some space to land it, as even in power off mode it just seems to go on forever, and that's with a head wind.

Thread about the Stearman and the Cessna.

Ken
Last edited by dz1sfb; Mar 28, 2017 at 04:30 PM.
Mar 28, 2017, 04:32 PM
Ken's CAD Models
dz1sfb's Avatar
3D Labprint is developing a 90mm EDF Mig-15 as the next release.

Ken
Mar 28, 2017, 07:28 PM
Registered User
For those who don't have experience with 3d printing, it's not exactly a turnkey process just yet. It's even more involved when you start designing your own parts.

That being said, it opens up all kinds of opportunities for builders. This is great for us, may be an issue for manufacturers in the future.....
Mar 28, 2017, 09:10 PM
WJH
WJH
B747-400 First Officer
WJH's Avatar
I'm going to print ribs and formers, since I don't have a laser cutter. Just doing that is a huge benefit to the modeler. Hybrid balsa/3d printed models
Mar 28, 2017, 09:13 PM
WJH
WJH
B747-400 First Officer
WJH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by dz1sfb
3D Labprint is developing a 90mm EDF Mig-15 as the next release.

Ken
Ah, it will even fly like one with the wing loadings involved
Mar 29, 2017, 01:31 AM
Registered User
So what is the material cost to print a typical plane?
Mar 29, 2017, 02:11 AM
Registered User
northernmonkey's Avatar
The stuff I used for printing the P38 only cost me £15 per KG (so just less than $20) and I think I used about 1.2KG or so.
Mar 29, 2017, 04:45 AM
Registered User
PaulB's Avatar
Not only the printing aspect but the whole CNC thing……

Look at the current crop of cheap 3D printers (mine cost € 200.00 delivered) and think about replacing the printer head (extruder to be correct) with a Dremel style tool with a milling bit. The resulting CNC milling machine probably wouldn’t be up to much but it would only be a few steps away from affordable off the shelf CNC milling for the average modeller.

Learning to 3D draw will still be a minor stumbling block but with several free programs available that problem can also be overcome with minimum effort.

Paul


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