Are 3D printed planes worth it? - RC Groups
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Dec 22, 2017, 05:15 PM
Ghost Rider the pattern's full
santanig5's Avatar
Question

Are 3D printed planes worth it?


Greetings pilots/builders,
I am new to the party having seen the review of 3D lab prints planes on Flight Test.
Not being a builder myself save for that 1st model 30 some years ago, 6 mons to build that box of wood into something resembling an aircraft and only 60 seconds to reduce it to splinters.
Having been back in the hobby for the last 3 ish years and flying only electric foam, I am really enjoying the technical advances in the hobby and still having my original Apprentice trainer in tact I'm light years ahead of where I was 30+ yrs ago.
The idea of making my own plane that doesn't cost the upwards of $600.00 for a 1700mm warbird is very interesting, but is it worth the cost of the printer?

I can see the argument that parts will always remain available so long as one owns the plans and has a printer, but how well do these planes stand up?
How forgiving are they in a crash compared to a little CA or Epoxy and carbon fiber rods and we are flying foam again?

Is there a steep learning curve to print 3D parts?
Does it require much tweaking of the settings if one doesn't buy the high end printer used by 3D lab prints?

Can the material be reused if from crashed parts or do they go into the trash bin?
If not a CAD designer is one limited to the models that have been created by 3D lab prints or is there a larger market?
Not that there is anything wrong with theirs, but if the market dries up, then what?

I would love to hear from those of you who have been flying these for some time and those who have been printing/building, the good the bad and the ugly.

Thanks in advance.

GJS
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Dec 22, 2017, 09:50 PM
Experience not required
Rcfiddy1's Avatar
Iíve been printing now for about 4 years. When I started there wasnít much out there but it seems to have taken off. There are so many printers out there but basically only a few different types. You can see these on fleabay that copy either a Prusa or delta printers. If you do buy a printer I would say buy from a reputable company. The new Prusa i3 mk3 is out and has most all of the bells and whistles youíll need. Itís pretty much turn key and simple. Like most hobbies there is a learning curve but itís not rocket science. Itís a motor pushing plastic into a hot nozzle while 3 other motors move the build plate. Now the
plastic you use will vary and each has its own properties. Pla is stiff and easy to print but melts at lower temps so if left out in sun it will warp. ABS has some give but is not as easily printed and requires special attention. PETG combine best of both pla and abs but can be a little tricky to print.
Now as for holding up in a crash. No. Not as good as foamies. My first 3D printed plane exploded on impact. Looked like a real crash site with pieces of plastic all over. But itís a lot cheaper to print new parts since a roll of plastic is around 20-30 bucks compared to a 75 dollar foam fuse.
Cadó- it helps to learn the basics. I knew nothing about designing on cad software and now I built a CNC table to cut foam board. Itís not hard at all. Download fusion360 and give it a try. I have printed 3 planes now, 4 drones, and a truck. Plus the forums are full of help.
My suggestions for a printer is a genuine Prusa i3 or a flashforge creator pro since it has a fully enclosed build area to help abs and other plastics from warping. There are a lot of people that will suggest others so this is just my opinion. Feel free to ask away.
Last edited by Rcfiddy1; Dec 22, 2017 at 11:50 PM.
Dec 22, 2017, 11:51 PM
Solve et cuagula
Omhra's Avatar
If you watch my videos you can see that they stand up to pretty hard abuse... and in my case, the experience of designing a printer using a generic small one and tinkercad, and then learning to print, have been a great convergence of hobbies.
I think is worth it.

3Dprinted MESSERSCHMITT BF 109 H (4 min 11 sec)



3D Lab Print - 3D Printed Boeing Stearman and 3D Printer design. (11 min 11 sec)
Dec 23, 2017, 12:15 AM
Registered User
fATAL's Avatar
NO! Plain and simple, Unless you want to learn another hobby called 3D printing the smart answer is NO it is not worth it. If you are willing to learn the art of 3d printing and messing with settings on what ever slicer you use til perfection... then perhaps you will be fine, but anticipate having to youtube learn more lessons that you expect to learn. From calibration to layer height and thickness to some filaments needing constant babying and drying .... it simply isnt going outshine a balsa build for you. BUT IF YOU DO BUY A GOOD PRINTER THEN GIVE UP ON IN... I MAY BUY IT FROM YOU FOR HALF MRSP!
Dec 23, 2017, 10:00 AM
Registered User
rajazo's Avatar
Is difficult to answer your question but take this points in consideration:
-3d printed planes will be more and more day by day... not just the 3dlab technic , thing in Kraga airplanes that combine 3dprinted parts and film cover Lot of foam - 3d parts combination are possible too. Actually I didn't print any plane but I made lot of pieces for my Turbo Porter, including articulated and structural parts. Here are a Link with available designs https://www.rcgroups.com/forums/show....php?t=2963434
-a 3dprinter can be useful to make lot more objects , just go to thingverse and see a little preview. And there are site than sell some furniture designs.(I bought a good looking lamp just at u$ 10).
-is not necessary to be a CAD designer or computer guru with new generation machines. Learning to move in a CAD program is not necessary but will open the door to a endless universe of self designed objects.
-is not necessary the best 3d printed to get a good result. Prusa I3 is the mother of all majority cheap 3d printed, but is not a printed for "just try. Go to a proved cheap brand like crearity (cr10 or the smaller cousin), anycubic mega (just need 8 screw to be ready), wanna i3 or monoprice. Actually my 3dprinter is a anycubic i3 (u$160 acrilic) and works great.
- don't be afraid about the lot of new dictionary you need to know (retraction, nose temperature, supports, ...and lot more) is not difficult to understand,a good machine even need to touch it and there are a BIG community to help you.

I hope it help you with another point
Last edited by rajazo; Dec 23, 2017 at 10:19 AM.
Dec 25, 2017, 03:07 PM
Registered User
Since we are active participants in a hobby "is it worth it" is not a relevant question IMHO. I enjoy the challenge of making something and then seeing it fly (or crash). For me, 3d printing has been an interesting challenge. It is time consuming and a little frustrating at times. However, I am learning a lot and enjoying the challenge. Thomas Edison said he learned more from his mistakes (I have made my share of 3d printing mistakes) than his successes.
Dec 25, 2017, 03:49 PM
FDF - Front Door Flyer
derfred's Avatar

Men In Black - Is It Worth It? (0 min 25 sec)
Jan 01, 2018, 12:31 AM
It flies? I like it!
Another opinion...

No, it won't save time (not by a long shot) or money, yes they are more fragile than foam or balsa, no, the surface finish is not great (more of an acquired taste), yes they are generally heavier and when printed in PLA as recommended, do not deal well with summer heat. It's the bleeding edge of two hobbies (aeromodelling and 3d printing) not necessarily the wave of the future. Just a very interesting time. Undeniably cool and "fun" in masochistic kind of way.

So, do it because you want to, not because it makes sense... I have...
Jan 01, 2018, 03:31 PM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by santanig5
Greetings pilots/builders,
.................................................. ...........

The idea of making my own plane that doesn't cost the upwards of $600.00 for a 1700mm warbird is very interesting, but is it worth the cost of the printer?

.................................................. ................

Is there a steep learning curve to print 3D parts?
Does it require much tweaking of the settings if one doesn't buy the high end printer used by 3D lab prints?

.................................................

Thanks in advance.

GJS
I do have a Prusa, have printed a few 'test' pieces, and the front section of the Spitfire fuselage supplied with the Prusa as a file, (it took hours to print just that one part.)
I used to be an engineering designer using CAD, until I retired.
I also have been designing and building model planes for the past 60 years.

So CAD and 3D printing is easier for me ..... ..... like it is.

It's a whole new way of thinking in trying to design from scratch. Asking for advice can lead to the usual problem of, e.g. asking about "what voltage ....", and someone explaining how a thermonuclear power plant works with all the technical lingo. Simple it isn't.

If cost of models is your main criterion, then scratch building in, foam, balsa, whatever should be considerably cheaper, (I pride myself on be the ultimate cheapskate when it come to building).
You still need all the radio gear etc, motor, (electric or IC), whatever you build, (or grow , 3D print) in. So a reel of filament may appear cheap in comparison to a stack of balsa.
If you buy ARF type models etc, then that is an expensive way to go, but considerably quicker.

It probably comes down to the old question of time, - is flying more important than building ?, and what you physically do, - is using your hands to make things more interesting than using your fingers on a keyboard ?.

Having bought my 3D printer, I feel I must try to use it, but ....... every time I think, what could I design and make using it, I generally think, damn, I could make it quicker and lighter with my hands. A puzzle I have yet to solve.

I am not knocking 3D printing, it appears quite amazing, when it produces something good. It's more like another hobby.

In my avatar picture are four scratch built models, (no plans). The B-17 is balsa with a foam core wing, the B-25 is nearly all balsa, The Sunderland and Dauntless are both mostly Depron foam. I love bigger models, the smallest there is 67" span, the biggest 100".
Could I have used a 3D printer ...... ?
Maybe for some parts.

If you love tinkering with 'gadgets', computers, CAD, then, yes, get a 3D printer. There are plenty of 'things' in files on the web to print.

If you want to just build and fly model planes, ..... then you could spend that 3D printer money on a lot of balsa, foam, carbon rods, fiber glass, etc, whatever you fancy.


One day I will use my printer to make something useful, and hopefully model plane related, I promise

Ray.
http://www.eflightray.x10host.com/
Jan 01, 2018, 07:07 PM
Registered User
fATAL's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by eflightray
I do have a Prusa, have printed a few 'test' pieces, and the front section of the Spitfire fuselage supplied with the Prusa as a file, (it took hours to print just that one part.)
I used to be an engineering designer using CAD, until I retired.
I also have been designing and building model planes for the past 60 years.

So CAD and 3D printing is easier for me ..... ..... like it is.

It's a whole new way of thinking in trying to design from scratch. Asking for advice can lead to the usual problem of, e.g. asking about "what voltage ....", and someone explaining how a thermonuclear power plant works with all the technical lingo. Simple it isn't.

If cost of models is your main criterion, then scratch building in, foam, balsa, whatever should be considerably cheaper, (I pride myself on be the ultimate cheapskate when it come to building).
You still need all the radio gear etc, motor, (electric or IC), whatever you build, (or grow , 3D print) in. So a reel of filament may appear cheap in comparison to a stack of balsa.
If you buy ARF type models etc, then that is an expensive way to go, but considerably quicker.

It probably comes down to the old question of time, - is flying more important than building ?, and what you physically do, - is using your hands to make things more interesting than using your fingers on a keyboard ?.

Having bought my 3D printer, I feel I must try to use it, but ....... every time I think, what could I design and make using it, I generally think, damn, I could make it quicker and lighter with my hands. A puzzle I have yet to solve.

I am not knocking 3D printing, it appears quite amazing, when it produces something good. It's more like another hobby.

In my avatar picture are four scratch built models, (no plans). The B-17 is balsa with a foam core wing, the B-25 is nearly all balsa, The Sunderland and Dauntless are both mostly Depron foam. I love bigger models, the smallest there is 67" span, the biggest 100".
Could I have used a 3D printer ...... ?
Maybe for some parts.

If you love tinkering with 'gadgets', computers, CAD, then, yes, get a 3D printer. There are plenty of 'things' in files on the web to print.

If you want to just build and fly model planes, ..... then you could spend that 3D printer money on a lot of balsa, foam, carbon rods, fiber glass, etc, whatever you fancy.


One day I will use my printer to make something useful, and hopefully model plane related, I promise

Ray.
http://www.eflightray.x10host.com/
E Flight Ray also doesn't trust NASA.
Jan 02, 2018, 03:19 AM
An itch?. Scratch build.
eflightray's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fATAL
E Flight Ray also doesn't trust NASA.
You mean there are people who do .....


Ray
Jan 02, 2018, 07:09 PM
Registered User
FWIW - I am a retired NASA aerospace engineer. Just sayin---
Jan 02, 2018, 10:47 PM
Retired CAD guy
birdofplay's Avatar
Engineers are "generally" OK
It's the last 8 yrs + of management
Jan 02, 2018, 11:39 PM
Registered User
fATAL's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by whanderson
FWIW - I am a retired NASA aerospace engineer. Just sayin---
FWIW, I just stayed at a Holiday Inn Express the other night

I make it a point to counter any E Flight Ray that comes my way!
Jan 03, 2018, 08:39 AM
Registered User
birdofplay: Having spent the majority of my professional life working NASA programs I could not agree with you more. Sorry for getting a little off subject.


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