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May 14, 2017, 05:04 AM
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A 3D printed FPV flying wing project.

As well as printing a P38 from 3Dlabprint, I've been working for some time on a 3D printed version of a flying wing FPV concept that I've been CAD-ing about with for far too long. I thought that the time has come for me to share my project on the Interweb.

The basic wing design has been developed on-and-off over several years and originally I intended to tool up for a molded composite version - which may still happen at some point - but noting the success of the 3DLabprints models caused me to make a small diversion and attempt a 3D printed airframe in the interim.

The basic wing design has been shown earlier on RCGroups and elsewhere but the latest incarnation is rendered here in red. A lot of the evolution of the design has been driven by my playing about a lot with CFD using OpenFOAM to further my knowledge about what makes flying wings tick and how to "optimize" them. This latest run was driven by the need to understand where to place the static ports for a pitot-static system - more on this in later posts, hopefully.

It's easy to think that once the airframe shape is done it's a simple job to create printable geometry. From my experience, nothing could be further from the truth! This project has consumed a lot of detail design effort needed to go into making it 3D printable - some for experimental prints, some to implement clever features that 3D printing allows but generally to add stiffness and strength to the lightweight shells and also in splitting the model down into printable sections and figuring out how they will join together.

I've been modelling everything in SolidWorks and have gone through several iterations of methods to make it light enough to be viable. On top of this, I am using a Tiertime Upbox to print. The Upbox is a fantastic printer from a reliability point of view, but it comes with a rather sewn-up proprietary slicer that doesn't have the most ideal functionality to generate lightweight prints. I've had to trick it by adopting several geometry methods so the results have been acceptable but they won't translate directly to S3D or Cura slicers. I'm currently printing in ABS rather than PLA too, which has it's swings and roundabouts. Wall thickness is a reasonable 0.5mm most of the time.

Attached are pictures of the (semi) complete design model, printing of the winglets, which were my first successful attempts at lightweight printing, I then moved inboard, attempting the wing panels, followed by elevons, servo mounts etc. More recently I've been working on the fuselage structure and detail.

I've managed to print out most of the airframe that has been designed so the to-do list starts with some assembly. Since I've printed it from ABS, I am using acetone welding to set everything together. This seems to produce a pretty robust joint from experimental gluings to date.

There's still a fair amount of detailing to finish things off. I need to do the fuselage cover, battery and autopilot mountings as well as finish off making the motor/ESC assembly.

I'll update this thread with some details of the features I've included in the design over the next while as I attempt to finish off the remainder of the design and build. Hopefully followed by a flight video at some point!
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May 15, 2017, 05:59 AM
Fly 3D Mon!
3DMON's Avatar
Nice work!
May 15, 2017, 05:32 PM
B747-400 First Officer
WJH's Avatar
What software was used for the aerodynamics analysis?
May 15, 2017, 05:36 PM
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localfiend's Avatar
Looks pretty cool. I'm curious about wingspan, final weight, and if the outer wall is one perimeter or two.
May 15, 2017, 07:28 PM
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Thanks 3DMON!

CFD was done in OpenFOAM using SolidWorks-generated STL models

Wingspan is 975mm. Airframe (printed) weight will be around the 600-650g mark (estimates at this stage) and yes, the surfaces are all single perimeter and coming in at 0.5mm using a 0.4mm nozzle. Flight weight will be circa 1200g

Will post some more info about goings on shortly.
Last edited by Andy_RR; May 15, 2017 at 07:41 PM.
May 16, 2017, 04:20 PM
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aero330's Avatar
Well done Andy_RR !!
May 26, 2017, 04:41 AM
Auzzie built planks
timbuck's Avatar
Great to see this is coming together andy
Latest blog entry: More colours
May 28, 2017, 07:28 AM
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Thanks Tim, Andrea,

I need to pull my finger out and make an update. Shortly, I promise!
Jul 23, 2017, 03:45 AM
Registered User
Making some progress with the assembly. Thought I'd share this idea that I've incorporated into my design. I have printed tubes at the top and bottom of the spar webs through which I can thread continuous glass fibre filament . Because I have printed in ABS, I then just wick acetone down the installed filament, jiggle it back and forth a little and let it set with some tension on it.

Having this at quasi-perpendicular to the print layers should give me a useful increase in bending strength and stiffness over a non-reinforced print. I have done this in four places across the wing and also along the length of fuselage, however the fuselage was less successful and will remain un-reinforced for this prototype.
Jul 23, 2017, 03:56 AM
Auzzie built planks
timbuck's Avatar
Neat idea andy Carbon tow would probably a little stiffer/lighter maybe , worth a try at least.
Latest blog entry: More colours
Oct 19, 2017, 05:45 AM
Registered User
Would you be willing to share the files for others to print and try out??? Thanks

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