June 18, 2014

It all started when Matthew Butchard got his 3Doodler, a 3D printing pen that extrudes plastic through a hot nozzle into shapes. Butchard is a research and development lead designer at SAS International in UK. Since then he has been working on various projects with the 3Doodler, and the 3Doodler RC Plane has been the main focus of Butchard for the last few months in this first half of 2014.

"In a way, if I can make the 3Doodler plane fly then perhaps I can do all the other things I dream about: today a 3Doodler RC plane, tomorrow a 3D printed solar updraft towers made of sand!" wrote Butchard.

His initial plan was to build a plane with the 3Doodler, and build it well enough to mount a modern RC motor in it and see if it can take flight.

For the trial build he chose some downloaded balsa wood plans from the Internet. The plane was printed using 3Doodler, in a simple cross braced structure which was stronger and easier to make than the other methods.

The next step was to mount all the RC gear and motor, cover the wings, mount all the remaining bits and tidy up the wires. Tthe RC gear and motor made the plane very heavy so there were a couple of re-builds afterwards. Finally he managed to get all the RC kit mounted and working, the motor is fitted along with the new propellor, and the receiver and battery were taped into place as well. The servos were from an old plane and costs about £10 for a set of 4.

After finishing the plane structure and controls, it was time to cover the plane. Butchard first sanded the contact surfaces of the plane and then held a plane covering material called Litespan in place with PVA glue.

One advantage of a 3D printing pen is that when your plane crashes in a test, you can simply fix the damage parts with the 3Doodler or make another one to re-attach to the structure. Butchard wrote:

This type of free form construction is one aspect that sets the 3Doodler apart from conventional 3D printing where I would have to measure, design and accurately position everything in a virtual 3D model before printing the parts.


With the 3Doodler you just do it. If your not happy with it then cut it out and do it again. It really is sketching in 3D, your first draft, your idea made reality to see how it works, how you can improve it before you progress into detailed design.

Watch below the test flight of Butchard's 3D printed RC plane. To give the plane a better chance of flight some fairly significant structural changes would required. But you can follow his blog to stay up to date of his progress.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

Maybe you also like:


michaelc wrote at 6/19/2014 5:54:53 AM:

They would do much better to choose an ultralight design, maybe a rogallo delta wing with a pair of tiny motors for thrust and steering. The plane they made was clearly suffering from overweight and lack of precison.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to

3ders.org Feeds 3ders.org twitter 3ders.org facebook   

About 3Ders.org

3Ders.org provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive