Feb. 14, 2015 | By Kira

One of the major draws of 3D printing is the ability to prototype and print multiple iterations of a design very quickly in order to modify and improve whatever it is your are building. This allows designers to problem-solve tricky or poorly performing products piece by piece, such as the RC Trike, which is notorious for its bad handling and therefore not very popular in the RC vehicle world.

Phillip Houghton, inspired by the Invader TC-3 performance sports trike, wanted an RC trike of his own, but was determined to design one with improved features for steering and control. Naturally, he turned to 3D printing to get the job done.

“I wanted to expand my own knowledge on how the three-wheeled design worked as far as grip and handling,” Houghton explained to 3ders.org. “The design is simple so 3D printing it seemed like a good option for prototyping because changes could easily be made to fix problems and improve handling during experimentation.”

The 24-year-old composite fabricator and engineering consultant for the aerospace industry began by using autocad and autodesk to draft his own RC design based on a popular 110mm width rc touring car, however during the design process, he expanded the width to 200mm to improve the handling. Then, using his modified XYZPrinting Da Vinci (complete with hacked Repetier firmware and Slic3r) and ABS filament, he printed and assembled the final product.

In addition to the eleven 3D printed frame pieces, Houghton used a 950kv for power, a 380 size Cobra brushless motor, a Mystery 30A ESC, a 2.4Gz Team Associated RX/TX system with a 3s 2200mah LiPo battery, and several 3mm screws to assemble the trike.

The result of his design has both pros and cons. It is direct drive (there is no transmission), which brings speed and control advantages as the expense of losing some torque. According to Houghton, the suspension is still a little stiff, and you’ll need a very gentle touch due to the quick steering, however once you’ve mastered that, it takes high-speed corners “like a charm.”

Due to the rapid-prototyping advantages of 3D printing, Houghton has already come up with improvements for future designs, such as using nano-tube carbon ABS for improved strength, and including a wider rear tire for better grip. The beauty of 3D printing is that the more you experiment, the better the final result. He will also be making the .stl files for the RC trike available on Thingiverse in the very near future.

Houghton has been building from a young age, and has always had an affinity for flying and wheel-driven vehicles, a passion that has rubbed-off on his three-year-old daughter.  “[She] is actively involved in most of my home projects like this one,” he told us. “She provides mostly input that would make most of the projects I build the colour pink, but she is learning a lot working with me and I have a lot of fun teaching her.” Whether that means the next iteration of Houghton’s trike will be fuschia or not, we can’t say for sure, however thanks to the rapid-prototyping benefits of 3D printing, high-performance three-wheelers could be the hottest new RC trend.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


Maybe you also like:


John wrote at 2/16/2015 3:42:19 AM:

Significant enough to have a cool story on this site. I think this guy might have something good going here. Its a cool project.

Paucus wrote at 2/15/2015 4:32:22 PM:

Why is it significant enough to put in the title that he is 24 years old?

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