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Jul 02, 2008, 09:29 PM
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kram242's Avatar
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Introducing The Phlatprinter * Available for Purchase *

* Available for Purchase *

Hello PhlatClub Members and the like! Please visit our Phlatforum at or if you are interested in purchasing a Phlatprinter Kit, please visit our website at We look forward to hearing from you. Mark and Trish Carew

Hello All. This thread has been a long time in the coming. We have been working on this project for a couple of years. We would like to introduce you to The Phlatprinter. The Phlatprinter is a machine that you build yourself mostly from parts bought from Lowes.

Tired of cutting out new plans? Sick of designing something, cutting it all out, building it only to find out you should have moved the wings back 1/4" to get the correct CG. And now you have to cut it out all over again. It's a pain. I know.

When I finally did get a design that I liked and I thought that it would be worthy enough to produce as a kit, I contacted all of the kit manufacturers that I could and ran into nothing but problems there. I know this sounds like a total sales pitch but the truth of the matter is I have been a part of RC Groups for a long time building and designing aircraft and I believe that The Phlatprinter will be a great help to everyone here. You can make your own kits. You can sell your own codes. You can give your own codes away for free just like trading pdf's and dfx files just like we do now with the difference being all the person on the receiving end has to do is hit print. This machine, "The Phlatprinter" has the potential to spit kits out all day long.

A little bit about the machine itself, it is based on a CNC milling machine using a Dremel for the router. It has 3 axis, X, Y, and Z. What makes it completely unique is that is has been specifically designed to cut foam sheets. The Z axis is inverted so that is points up and the X axis is actually a drive roller that pushes and pulls the foam. It is the ultimate foam cutter, in my opinion. It can do things that hot wire cutters can never touch.

The Phlatprinter is now and always will be a work in progress. I know there will be mods and updates to the software and the machine as we go and we gather input from other users. We have tried our best to keep this as free as possible in every aspect. The software we are using is the free version of sketchup utilizing a custom coded script for The Phlatprinter code output known as PhlatCode aka G-Code. Anyone who builds a Phlatprinter will be able to download The Code and print any planes/plans available. I'm sure as we progress and grow in the design of our aircraft and push the limit of what The Phlatprinter can do, we will tweak our aircraft to fly exactly how we want them to fly before we release the plans. This process will greatly improve the entire RC hobby.

Before I keep going on and on about the benefits and the pluses of what The Phlatprinter and what the community of sharing The PhlatCodes could mean to this hobby, I would appreciate it if you could go check out our website and let me know what you really think.

To be perfectly honest, this thread starter was an attempt to see how many people would really be interested in this idea. I have cut out my second Phlatprinter prototype now and I am working on finalizing the plans for the official version of The Phlatprinter plans. So, if there is enough interest in this venture, I will do everything I can to deliver and exceed expectations. I really wanted this to be a winter project for everyone but as it turns out, it hit in the summer. Not much I can do about that except allow you to take the ride with us into the final stages of completing the plans. Please visit out website for pictures, videos, and more details.

Any questions or comments you can post here and we will do our best to answer them. Also, could you all please take part in the poll so we can see if this venture is even worth while.

Thank you all for reading and hopefully, your interest.

Mark and Trish Carew
Last edited by kram242; Dec 08, 2008 at 09:45 PM.
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Jul 02, 2008, 10:33 PM
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nstaller's Avatar
nice work, would be a fun project
Jul 02, 2008, 10:35 PM
Registered User
smkn951's Avatar
great work.

after going through your site, i am really amazed on what your machine can do.
can the machine accept different size foams?
what's the thickest material can it cut?
how fast did it cut the plane on the video?
are there any recommended parts that may be substituded with the original design to make it perform faster?
wow so much questions, i really do apologize for this.

i definitely agree that this will change the hobby.
in fact i'm already thinking what to do while waiting fora plane to be finish cutting......
i guess i'll have more time flying, i mean crashing.
i'd really like to see this machine take off.
again great job.
Jul 02, 2008, 10:59 PM
Registered User
fr4nk1yn's Avatar
Jul 02, 2008, 11:06 PM
Registered User
When I saw that it even beveled the control surfaces, my jaw literally dropped. That is simply amazing.

- Jeff
Jul 02, 2008, 11:56 PM
Registered User
trikesterkyote's Avatar

A watershed development

This work is really significant and this machine has the potential to revolutionize many craft pursuits from proof of concept modeling to pure artistic expression. Wow!! What a cool thing!!

I saw something similar in Popular Science magazine a few years back, but it was on a much smaller scale and intended for small mold making. The output was not anywhere near the quality you have achieved.

Congratulations, and thank you for the good work.
Jul 03, 2008, 12:07 AM
Foam Master
anyairrc's Avatar
Ok that is cool!!! If the plans where available for $50 or less, that would leave more money for people to buy the parts. Also I would love to build one but would be afraid I couldn't get it to work, is the wiring very complicated?
Jul 03, 2008, 03:23 AM
Just one more.......
Sim69's Avatar
WOW!! what a great design! I've been wanting to build some sort of CNC cutter for a long time (I hate cutting out models) This concept is great! A platform where everyone who builds one can share plans and download models and just hit print! What a gift to the scratchbuild community! I took a look at your site and I'm simply amazed at what it can do. I'd be happy to give you $50-$100 bucks for a proven design that didn't require an electrical engineers degree to put together and from parts that were easily obtained......where do I sign
Jul 03, 2008, 04:01 AM
Registered User
WOW ... fantastic stuff. Very interested to see how this develops ;-)
Jul 03, 2008, 07:21 AM
-+- PhlatBoyz -+-
kram242's Avatar
Thread OP
When we woke up this morning we couldn't wait to see what you guys thought of idea
and we were so happy to hear that you loved it! Thank you for all your kind remarks and interest. I will try to answer all your questions

can the machine accept different size foams? Yes it can cut from 1mm to 1" Now I have put thicker material on there 2" foam and it will still move and cut it, just would no be able to cut all the way through it. But sometimes you don't want it to cut all the way through.
what's the thickest material can it cut? The machine can cut all the way through 1" foam, but you can stack cut by doing slices. I have a picture of Mt. St.Helens in the picture gallery that shows about 4 or 5 half inch carvings cut and then stacked for a quick test.
how fast did it cut the plane on the video? 15 min at 40 inches per min
are there any recommended parts that may be substituted with the original design to make it perform faster? Yes there are better parts like precision ground rods and ball screws, not to mention better steppers and liner bearings that would all make this machine WAY faster and more accurate and you could substitute them no problem, if you have the money to do that as they are very expensive. I will be using the hardware store parts, and I will try to list other company's besides Lowes that carry the same parts.

is the wiring very complicated? The wiring is super easy, I'm no electronics expert, so I will be showing everyone how to wire it up as simple as possible
The way it works is that there are 3 axis, each axis has it own motor, each motor has 4 color coded wires. Each motor hooks into the drive board on its own section 123 or XYZ. Its really simple. I will be able to show you better in the build movies and pictures. All you do is stick the wire in and tighten down a set screw. I will show you guys where they go.

I hope I answered most of what you guys were after. As I said before I can't thank you enough for all your great responses Its this excitement that will push me into finishing up the plans ASAP
Soon we will ALL the the ability to be our own kit builders!
Jul 03, 2008, 07:34 AM
Crash & Burn
rmgmag's Avatar
It sounds like a great idea. How much did all of the parts cost?
Jul 03, 2008, 07:36 AM
RJPIoW's Avatar
Mark - Ive spent the last 25 years designing machines for plotting and cutting stuff. From lasers to ultrasonic knives and waterjets. Theres a machine in Houston that inspects oil filtering pipes that we designed and built.

Ive spent many hours wondering where I could cut corners in my designs to make a 3D milling system at a cut down price.

Stepper systems are now cheap enough, and I know of at least 1 multi-axis control card that could be mounted in a PC to do the task.

However, it seems to me that youve cracked the 'bangs for your buck barrier' and I will follow your progress with much interest. If you think my experience and knowledge could be of help pls let me know.

Well done

Jul 03, 2008, 07:59 AM
14s 180mah should be enough...
IFLYOS's Avatar

Glad to see you mention the Phlatprinter here, and even more glad to here you are about ready to "cut it loose."

I am anxious to learn more!!

Do you have a ballpark parts cost for the total machine? Obviously it will vary somewhat but something to give us an idea?

Also, how long do you think it would take to assemble the printer? A weekend or two,or more?

Third, will you be releasing the G-code for your version of the flying truck?? (lol)

Latest blog entry: Intro..a few years to late!
Jul 03, 2008, 09:20 AM
Concept Builder
Vanish's Avatar
I would absolutely love to have one, but it highly depends on the cost of the machine of course.

As a prototype builder, a machine like this would be perfect. Especially since I fail at cutting 90s with a razor. The most annoying aspect to building a new model for me is transferring the plans from computer to paper to foam, and it does that step for me.
Jul 03, 2008, 09:21 AM
-+- PhlatBoyz -+-
kram242's Avatar
Thread OP

Phlatprinter - From Sketchup to the real world

Hello, first off Richard, You have to love your job! I really don't know where I went off track with my career but designing and building machines is really a passion I have. I must tell you guys I have designed other machines as well. Just never put them public and most never left the design phase, but now maybe they will! the whole reason for these machines was to build a shop that could produce kits without out sourcing anything.
I'm not rich and I can't afford to go out and invest $20.000 in a laser cutter, even though it will be way more precise than the Phlatprinter, we are talking foam kits here they really do not have to be perfect within 10,000 of an inch. and I never had the chance to test it but I believe that if I used a adhesive backed rubber sheet stuck to the drive wheel, we could cut wood as well as foam!?! We will see what that future holds in the mods area the other machines I have plans for are A vacuum former with a 2'x2' area. A computer controlled wire bender for making landing gear (design), A 3d printer (design) and a few others. Richard I am VERY grateful to be able talk to you about ideas. Thank you for offering I might have to call on you for that.
Pricing, tonight I am going to sit down with Trish and we will have a ballpark figure of the pricing, we have all the pricing for the parts the only missing variable will be the lowest amount we can charge for the plans and script and still break even. If I can keep the entire machine cost under 500 total that includes all the parts and all the software and plans and sketchup code, and all the electronics we might be on to something. So I am hoping that for the price of 2 decent brushless motors and a few batteries you could have this machine.
I know that it I really want to keep this as cheap as I can so that everyone, and I mean everyone has the same opportunity to build this machine. If we can do that then it makes it all worthwhile, at that point it will change this hobby forever and it will allow the everyday guy/girl to jump in at a level they (most) could never reach before.
We here at RCgroups design test and redesign so many aircraft, we are a huge lot of aircraft beta testers that come up with outstanding results for all kinds of aircraft, and we are relentless in our pursuit for the high of watching our creations take to flight for the fist time. And then what usually happens next? A company with a laser cutter comes along and total knocks off our ideas and begins to mass market it.
Or you go to them to them when you have a proven kit, and they want you to sign away all your rights to your design and on top of that they charge you to do it.
This is really not a rant to the kit manufactures out there, it's really an attempt to let individuals have the chance at the American dream of free enterprise. This is a big step for us to take on as a young married couple just starting out together in life (well sort of 9 years), so please bear with us and our short comings I have been studying ruby like crazy trying to figure out how I can make this plug-in happen and I am calling in a programmer to help us out. I will keep you all updated on that front as well.
On there is a blog section at the bottom that I try to update daily with any new news.
Also I will post here later tonight the ballpark figure on building the machine everything.
The first printer took me 2s week to build, (trouble shooting took years)the next one took me a couple days, because I made the planes from the 3D model.
Thank you all again for all your help and kind remarks, pushing us forward.
Mark n Trish
p.s. I am including in this post a few of the older machines and prof of concept machines I have built in the past.
Last edited by kram242; Jul 03, 2008 at 09:29 AM.

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