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Sep 24, 2006, 11:54 PM
soholingo's Avatar

Wing Building: Built up Ribs vs Foam Laminated wings, which is better?


I know the usual answer is "it depends" but which is the better build method?

Here are the considerations...

1. Time (I want to build as quick as possible)
2. Accuracy of the build. I can cut foam wings and I can cut ribs by hand. I can also outsource these functions to have the performed by computers.
3. Durability. Which will generally take longer to wear out?
4. Easy of building. I have the bags, pumps, epoxy, ca, balsa etc... to build either.
5. Prototype? Which is the prefered method to prototype ships. This would mean really quick, almost disposeable building so that a basic feel of the plane can be gained. I can see covering a foam wing with tape or building a ribbed wing with fewer ribs and full balsa sheeting.
6. Any other considerations you may have.

This will be my first official building season, and I plan on building several 60 inch planes from DLG, to mini hotliners. I purposely didn't ask about spars as I think the same spar can be used in either construction method.

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Sep 25, 2006, 04:19 AM
Registered User
The best, so far, is EPP foam wing cores, carbon tube and skin mylar tape.

Here are the considerations...

1. Time (I want to build as quick as possible)
One day.
2. Accuracy of the build.
Get the cores from Les.
Or get the CNC machine.
3. Durability.
EPP and Mylar.
4. Easy of building.
Goop or hot glue.
5. Prototype?
Same methods.
6. Any other considerations you may have.
Learn to use engneering methods. Study about aerodynamics and structures. It is more efficient rather than cut and try. Don't think that you can win in contests.
Last edited by Ollie; Sep 25, 2006 at 04:45 AM.
Sep 26, 2006, 01:37 PM
Registered User
mhodgson's Avatar

Try them all

I have built using all those methods, and some others, and much prefer to built all built up models. Its a satisfaction thing and I have been know to scratch build a 3m thermal soarer in wood from plan to flying in a week, including hand cutting 100 ribs....
I do use different techniques for different types of models if need be but if possible I always use a built up structure.

I'd suggest that you try several different models with different structure types and find the methods you prefer.
Sep 26, 2006, 06:28 PM
soholingo's Avatar
cutting 100 ribs would take me a week... How did you build it so fast? And how many models have you built?

Sep 26, 2006, 10:00 PM
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vintage1's Avatar
I thnk not much beats a D box wing witrh rib capping for strength to weight frankly.

Thats my choice for old timers.

For WWII type scale, I think probably depron sheet over balsa formers and decent spars is good.

The sailplane giys like foam I suspect because they add carbon and glass for strength, and they get a totally true airfioil, and weight is not SO critical there as low drag.

But it all depends on what you want. 100 ribs ALL THE SAME is a cinch. Its when they are all different you are in trouble..
Sep 27, 2006, 03:23 PM
Registered User
mhodgson's Avatar
Originally Posted by soholingo
cutting 100 ribs would take me a week... How did you build it so fast? And how many models have you built?

Well not working or going to colledge at the time was helpfull, and forget a social life. It all boils down to planning your build. Sharp knife. using templates where possible and while some things are setting/gluing cut out others.
Somewhat slower today with a family to care for but I still spend an evening in front of the TV cutting ribs out.
Been building models for 25 years and lost count of how many I built.
Sep 28, 2006, 12:58 AM
Registered User
A quick and dirty prototype is a foam core with nylon strapping tape used in place of a spar. Cover with lightweight packing tape. A balse LE and TE will help with dings and give a more solid mount for ailerons. However, I have used bi-directional stapping tape as an aileron hinge with good results and omitted the balsa TE.

You can build a hybrid wing. Use a foam core, then sheet the LE back to a typical spar location, sheet the TE and capstrip the area between the LE and TE sheeting. Many times, the sheeting will provide sufficient strength without having to inlay a spar. With this method, you can use the high temp films and have a nice smooth finish. The SST in the attached pic was built this way.

OTOH, nothing is more appealing than a nicely built all wood wing -- but it takes time.

Last edited by Andrew0820; Sep 28, 2006 at 01:04 AM.

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