Feb. 23, 2016 | By Kira
3D printed drones and RC quadcopters are all the rage these days, but good old fashioned RC model planes can be just as much fun—especially when they can be made on a standard desktop 3D printer, and for less than $20. To make that dream a reality, Štěpán Dokoupil of 3DLabPrint has just released a series of four fully 3D printable RC fighter airplanes for all levels of experience.
3DLabPrint is a Czech-based online shop dedicated to creating 3D printed aircrafts that can be made on FDM desktop 3D printers. The process is as simple as selecting your preferred model airplane, downloading the purchased files, and following the detailed instructions. 3DLabPrint even offers email support and customized G-codes for users that aren’t 100% sure where to start. The basic requirements to make your own model RC plane are an FDM 3D printer with minimum 195 x 195 x 195 mm build volume, a 0.4mm nozzle, and PLA filament. A heated bed is also recommended, if possible.
Initially, Dokoupil designed and launched two fully 3D printable RC model airplanes: the Spitfire and Mustang Fighter. Following their success, he has now released two more: the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, one of the largest fighter aircraft in history, and the EasyMax sports glider, designed specifically for less-experienced pilots.
The first new RC plane model is the EASYMAX 001, which offers the best weight to wing area ratio of all the models, and is therefore the most user-friendly. With a wingspan of 1.53 metres, the relatively slow and easy-to-fly EASYMAX 001 consists of 26 3D printed parts plus a propulsion system that allows it to soar for seven minutes at full throttle, with speeds exceeding 150km/h.
The EASYMAX 001 3D printed RC model airplane
The second new 3D printable model airplane is the Republic P47 N15 Thunderbolt, a WW2-era fighter bomber considered to be one of the largest and heaviest fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single 4-stroke internal combustion engine. Doukopil’s 1/12 scale model has a wingspan of 1.16 meters and includes an optional conversion kit with steerable rudder, preparation for LED navigation lights, and modified wings that for the installation of retractable and impact-resistant landing gear.
The Republic P47 N15 Thunderbolt 3D printed model RC airplane
Next up is the Spitfire Mk XVI, the first model aircraft Dokoupil ever made, and one that holds special significance to the Czech designer. “The technically refined machine with an unforgettable silhouette served as a template for the prototype in 1/12 scale,” said Dokoupil. The final model has a wingspan of 0.97 meters, and thanks to its load-bearing features and battery placement, it can easily handle sharp turns, making it suitable for simulated air combat.
The Spitfire Mk XVI 3D printed RC model airplane
The fourth and last 3D printable RC airplane is the P51 D Mustang, another famous WW2-era fighter. According to Dokoupil, the Mustang’s “sophisticated spatial structure” could only be re-created using additive manufacturing technology, and its unique wing shape (and 0.92 meter wingspan) make it unlikely to tip even at low speeds. Like the Spitfire, the Mustang can be fitted with various propulsion systems so that both occasional and ACES Aircombat enthusiasts can enjoy it. Dokoupil added that both the Spitfire and Mustang were designed for intermediate to advanced RC pilots.
The P51 D Mustang 3D printed RC model airplane
“Both parts, the wing and the fuselage, feature extensive hi-tech 3D structural reinforcement which makes the model very rigid while still maintaining lightweight airframe and exact airfoil even when it is made only from plastic. This perfect and exact 3D structure is possible only due to additive 3D printing,” said Dokoupil of his 3D printable designs. “The technology of 3D printing offers unprecedented possibilities for designing model airplanes. You can produce an ideally shaped load-bearing structure while being limited only by your creativity and modelling abilities.”
The files for each 3D printable airplane can be purchased for between $10-20 via 3DPrintLab, and require minimal assembly and additional parts. The 3D printed parts are simply glued together, and the propulsion system consists of a brushless motor, ESC, servos and a radio system. Detailed, step-by-step PDFs are included with purchase, or you can find extensive video guides via his YouTube channel.
As for Dokoupil, he is a Czech-based architect, 3D modeller, and RC plane enthusiast with over 15 years of experience. When he’s not flying model airplanes, he pilots real-life Zlín 142, Cessna 172 and 152 or Tecnam JS92 aircrafts over Europe and North America. A few years ago he bought his first desktop 3D printer, and through these 3D printable RC model airplanes, has seemingly discovered the best possible way to combine his two long-time passions.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Michaël wrote at 2/23/2016 11:22:18 AM:
Wonderful work... Anyone from the youtube video was able to identify what was the CAD package used, out of curiosity?