RC Model 3D Printing
3D printing has taken off in the RC modeling world for a number of reasons – it’s easy, it’s fun, and you can print components the exact size you want instead of relying on the “next-best” option off the shelf. Ultimately, the results you get are amazing, although not effortless. The feeling of having created something so awesome all by yourself is very rewarding.
How is it done? There are free templates you can download to adjust your 3D printer settings as needed. Then, you just get to building. This article will let you know where to find templates and how to build planes, cars, and/or drones.
Can I Make an RC Plane Myself?
Yes – all you need is a 3D printer and some free time. First, you need to decide on the design. A popular one is the FoamFighters SuperNova foam pusher plane, which has a very appealing exterior and features excellent performance. You can watch the 3D printed version fly here. It was printed on a Modified RepRap Mendelmax with 0.25 mm and 100% infill. When ready and fully equipped, the plane weighs just 1.4 grams.
You could make an RC 3D printable plane in Tinkercad, a site with free software. This plane has 3 printed parts and the assembled wing is 40 cm wide. It has inbuilt control horns and a place to hold a camera. The model is printed with two walls, each of which has thickness of just 0.4 mm, with grid pattern infill. The plane doesn’t come with top or bottom layers. Below, you can view the wing structure created with these settings.
How Do I Make a Remote Controlled Car?
RC cars are fun and easy to make using a 3D printer. Before you get started, make sure you will have ample space to test them, like a spare car park. The company Engineering Nonsense creates designs in PLA to make them as accessible to printer owners around the world as possible. Normally, you can print just the chassis in 3D, but with PLA, almost the entire car is printable.
The differentials, gearbox, and drive shafts can all be printed. You don’t even need to buy the tie rods and suspension arms! This makes building the vehicle a breeze with everything being printed to just the right size. The car printed in PLA (as any car) features excellent performance. Grip is good thanks to double wishbone suspension and 4WD drive train. The relevant templates and all other files you need are available on Thingiverse.
Keep in mind that even a reduction gearbox can be 3D printed. We already mentioned that, but a lot of RC fans don’t believe it and choose to gear the motors down instead. This is cumbersome and takes a lot of fun out of your project.
It might take a few tries before you get it perfectly, especially if you’re new to 3D printing. The car above has a drive shaft right down the middle of the body. We recommend 4WD operation but if you prefer 2WD for whatever reason, you can set it up for rear- or front-wheel drive only. You can lock the back differential for greater traction, but in this case, your handling will suffer.
3D built cars have impressive capabilities, such as cross-country – gravel and dirt are not an obstacle. PLA built makes the vehicle very accessible. On average, this type of car will operate non-stop for up to five hours.
What Do I Need to Know about Printing RC Drones?
The popularity of remote controlled drones is undeniable. Part of the reason for this is the fact they can be 3D printed in the size and shape of your choice. Micro quadcopters in particular have seen a notable increase in recognition in recent months. They are very tiny (hence their name “micro”), but they can be powered by a two-cell Li-Po battery and high-RPM brushless motors and with that, their power is potentially huge. In combination with video transmission, the drone is practically indestructible.
3D printers and RC drones are a match made in heaven. You can 3D print a powerful, economic micro quad suitable for both outdoor and indoor flying with 90 mm diagonal size (the distance between two motors). Apart from electronic components, every part of a drone can be 3D printed. You can print all of the following:
· Landing gear
· Antenna holder
· Camera mounts
· Protective equipment (i.e. prop guards)
· Battery pack casing
· Remote casing
Not only enthusiasts are using 3D printing – commercial drone manufacturers are doing it too. The submarine drones made by the company Blue Robotics, based in Southern California, are 3D printed. Why do we mention them? Their templates and files are open source, meaning anyone can download the digital blueprints and print a 3D drone. If you need more 3D printed drone resources, the RCgroups forum has an interesting list of 3D printed multi-rotors.
How Do The Quadcopters Fly?
Quadcopters are powered by a set of four motors, hence the “quad” in the name. Two of the motors rotate counterclockwise, the other two – clockwise. Each pair of motors is equipped with a set of propellers. Ideally, the four motors produce thrust that’s double that of the device’s weight. You need a battery to power the motors. It should be bigger if you want to spin the motors longer or faster. Keep in mind that the bigger the battery is, the more it will weigh. Hence, you need more powerful motors with bigger propellers, but they need more battery power and will drain your battery quicker. Finding the right best power-to-weight ratio is a matter of patience and trial and error.
Where Do I Find Templates?
We have some templates on our site (insert link). Thingiverse has thousands of them – for planes, cars, drones, and more. You will need to buy a radio and receiver, a motor, servo, batteries, lights, battery chargers, and motor or battery adaptors.
You can check out our range of completed RC Models & the accessories you will need for your 3D Printed Models…..here in our RC Store