I was an avid model builder in my youth, and carried it forward into adulthood when I was much younger by building RC (Radio Controlled) Planes.  My biggest problem was that the planes took a long time to build relative to the length of time I could fly one before crashing it.  I think I eventually got to a 4 or 5 to 1 ratio, meaning I could successfully fly the plane for about 5 times more hours than it took me to build it.  Not all of that was a function of improving my piloting skills though–I learned how to build those planes much more quickly over time.  Looking at what’s possible today, I can see that times have really changed–it’s almost enough to make me think of taking it up again.  Almost.

The advent of hobby class 3D printers has put a whole new tool into the hands of RC Modelers and Drone Builders that has some serious advantages over the old days of buying a balsa wood kit at the hobby shop.  You’ve got an unprecedented ability to create one off models or to add 3D printed parts to an existing model to make it a better or more unique scale model.  The details that go into making a scale model really beautiful were always scarce in those balsa kits.  The best modelers had to fabricate all sorts of parts to add those details to their planes.  A 3D Printer is an ideal tool for doing that.  In addition to scale details, there’s a wealth of other parts that go into the plane–servo trays used to bolt your servos and RC electronics down, linkages to transmit power from a servo to a control surface or engine throttle, and so on.

Here’s a scrapbook showing some of the many amazing things talented modellers have accomplished for their RC Aircraft and Drone projects using 3D Printing:

TrainerDrone

An R/C Trainer by the same University of Virginia team that did the 100 MPH drone below…

3dood-feat

Old School flyer was made entirely with a 3DDoodler 3D Printing pen!

OpenSwift

OpenSwift is an open source R/C Flying wing that combines 3D printing with conventional construction to produce a lighter model…

P38

5 Foot Wingspan P-38 is a Monster…

3dprintedSpinner

There’s no end of parts like this 3D printed prop spinner needed to build a Scale R/C Plane…

Pilot

The detail on this 3D printed pilot is better than anything I ever saw come out of an R/C Kit.  It was 3D printed by Shapeways on their high quality industrial 3D printers–just a reminder that you don’t even need to own a 3D printer to benefit…

[youtube width=”800″ height=”647″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwRD7UBGecg[/youtube]

A complete 100 MPH 3D Printed drone from the University of Virginia…

CarbonMold

Want super-strong and light carbon fiber for your project?  No problem.  Use the 3D Printer to create the molds.  Be sure to check out our CNCCookbook series on carbon fiber molding while you’re at it…

3D-printed-mini-jet-engine-from-GE

For the ultimate R/C project, how about 3D printing a real miniature turbojet engine?  Visit MMSOnline for a great video about this GE project.  Unfortunately, you’ll need Tony Stark’s Workshop Budget to be able to print one…

 

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