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Is 3D Printing worthwhile yet?

uncleray

Junior Member
#1
While reading the Tricopter V2_5 build tutorial I wondered if it would be worthwhile
to use 3D printing to make the body template. I designed a "white strong flexible" model
based on the tutorial and, if printed via Shapeways, it would cost around $40-50 bucks.

Does anyone think that 3D printing is a viable option or is cutting material with a saw still
the most economical method?

Just askin' :D
 
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colorex

Rotor Riot!
Mentor
#2
While reading the Tricopter V2_5 build tutorial I wondered if it would be worthwhile
to use 3D printing to make the body template. I designed a "white strong flexible" model
based on the tutorial and, if printed via Shapeways, it would cost around $40-50 bucks.

Does anyone think that 3D printing is a viable option or is cutting material with a saw still
the most economical method?

Just askin' :D
In my personal taste, laser cutting is a much nicer option for multirotor frames.
 
#3
I bought some thin ply wood from hobby lobby and cut it with a scroll saw.. I calculated the cost per frame (booms, screws, paint, etc) complete frame cost me $13.50..

I'm sure I could buy a sheet of delrin, or carbon fiber etc, cut it with the scroll saw and be under $40.. though I'd love to own a 3d printer
 

chaydock

Junior Member
#5
If you are skilled enough to make the drawings/renders that you want, there are plenty of places you can send out to for production and they are reasonably priced. Both Ponko and Shapeways are popular/reputable sites that will do laser cutting and 3D printing out of a multitude of materials for you. The FT Bat Bone is made from Delren for instance which Ponko can laser cut that material for you. I'm not sure if the price point for it would be better than your 3D print quote from Shapeways, but depending on the detail, the materials and how much you value your time, the money may be well spent.
 
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eagle4

New member
#6
There are different types of 3d printing available. very soon one of the patents is expiring so that it means many more cheap 3d printers will come out with better technology. that is lazer sinting. I'm not sure of the strength of this material, it seems pretty strong from the print's i've had done. and obviously a good design can add a lot of strength with minimal weight. The cheapest 3d printer on the market at the moment is the makibox, you can get one for $200. You can imagine that once you've got a 3d printer then your prints are much cheaper than if you go to shapeways to get them done. Its like once you own a 2d printer making a print is pretty much free
 
#7
I think the strength of the 3d printed materials isn't what it would need to be to make a multi body that could take a hard landing or even crash. While 3D printed objects can be made strong they are usually a of a more solid geometry. (Hooks, blocks, flanges, sockets, etc) If the shape is more of a plane or it is a more hollow shape or has many open voids it will start to loose strength. I think cutting strong material is still the current best bet. However, for things like mounts and pivots and such, 3D printing seems to work very well. David has done some tests on printing a yaw mechanism that looks pretty slick.

Chad had a bad crash with the hex that had the blue 3D printed camera gimbal. Some props broke and a few other smallish issues but the gimbal snapped badly.
 
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#8
I personally have taken Davids Tricopter v2.5 and 3d printed it with both ABS and PLA plastic and i have yet break a frame. I actually learned to fly with a 3d printed frame and legs. For the swappables i printed the firewall and the control horns without any issues. I agree it is not as strong as hobby plywood but for me it was the easiest and fastest way to get into the air. :p
 

knife-edge

Senior Member
#9
In the past few years, 3d printing has both become more common, cheaper, and has started to produce higher quality parts. The availability of the printer itself in now just a couple clicks away on your keyboard, and in a few weeks, you are ready to start printing with your very own 3d printer. However, to answer your question is 3d printing worthwile yet, you have to take a broader perspective. Shapeways is a website that acts as the middleman to provide you with a product as well as a service. If you eliminate the middleman, you effectively can get what you want at cost. This has become more common lately because the cost of a 3d printer has reduced dramatically in the past few years. I personally believe that 3d printing still has a little way to come pricepoint wise, but with some printers being only a few hundred bucks, I would (and have) consider buying one. It all depends on what and how much you want to print. Obviously if all you want is a single copy of a little nothing part, the cost/return is not going to be great.
 

abaron13

Junior Member
#10
My local library has a 3d printer and if I remember correctly you are only charged $.08/oz for what you make. Not a bad deal if you ask me.
 
#11
From a technical perspective, there is a *huge* range in the capabilities and output quality of 3D printers. The inexpensive machines are very limited in what they can create. What state-of-the-art machines can produce is nothing short of amazing. Although the machines are very inexpensive to operate (they require little power and almost no attention) even the most expensive ones are quite slow. It is the slow production speed that makes parts so expensive.

In terms of whether it is worthwhile, that depends entirely on the part you are trying to create. For small, highly complex parts, 3D printers are great. There are some parts you can make with 3D printing you simply cannot create with traditional machining and/or casting methods. For large, simple parts, traditional construction methods will almost always be faster, cheaper, and of higher quality.
 

tophe75

Junior Member
#12
3D printing is the best thing that has happened for me and combining it with my love for RC makes it just amazing.
I thing what FliteTest is doing and there stand point of making the hobby more accessible to all is the right way to go.

I want to build the things that FliteTest puts out there but as the shipping from US to Sweden is way to high (and I like to get creative with my 3D printer) I try to make FT hardware 3D printable.

Here are just a few examples:

FT Simple firewall
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:132555
IMG_0771_preview_featured.jpg

FT Control Horn
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:131758
ft_control_horn_preview_featured.jpg

FT Rotor Bones Knukle Hub
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:163794
DSC_3200_preview_featured.jpg

If you liked this things, check out all the thing I have posted: http://www.thingiverse.com/tophe75/designs

So in conclusion, 3D printing works great for RC parts and you do not need expensive printers, I use the RepRap Pro Mono (http://www.reprappro.com/products/mono-mendel/) and PLA 1.72mm filament to build my things.

And if you look closely, you can see that Chad has a 3D printed GoPro Gimbal on his AnyCopter...
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#13
I found a mold injector for $600, but it has to be mounted to a drill press and can only make small items. If you want multiples of the same thing mold injecting plastic is the way to go. If you only want a few and/or to test out a bunch of different designs, then 3D printing is the way to go.

One problem with mold injecting is getting the molds made, or getting hold of a CNC machine to make them yourself. But if you want a boat load of the exact same part, it's the faster and cheaper route.

http://www.techkits.com/pim/
 

Byro

Junior Member
#14
Tophe75: Those are some great models!

RCSpaceFlight: I made some great injection molds a few years ago. I made a 2 part rubbery mold from the original but included a hole at the top and bottom to inject resin and take the overflow. The initial molds took 24 hours per part but once that was done. it was as easy as getting a large syringe, filling it with a 2 part resin and waiting 10 minutes for it to set. The whole setup cost me <$100 and made a few molds and had 1 litre of resin to make the parts with.
 
#15
My friend has a 3d printer and has offered to make me parts for my RC stuff before. He claims that the plastic is stronger, but if you are printing flat objects, make sure it's printed in PLA plastic NOT ABS plastic because ABS warps too much. He currently is designing a baby blender in segments that he can print out, put together, and fly.

Also, what do you guys think about the peachy printer. It is a $100 3d printer that uses your headphone jack, lasers, mirrors, and water to complete the print.

Nathan
 

Byro

Junior Member
#16
The peachy is good for very small very detailed parts.

A standard extruder based printer will be quicker (I think) for large objects but can't get the same detail as the Peachy
 

wittpilot

Just Plane Crazy
#17
I'm interested in their use in the plastic modelling scene. Specifically, the possibilities of detailed parts that would normally cost a bundle to order from places like Eduard.
 

rcspaceflight

creator of virtual planes
#18
I'm interested in their use in the plastic modelling scene. Specifically, the possibilities of detailed parts that would normally cost a bundle to order from places like Eduard.
True. Model railroading ("the world's greatest hobby") would be a lot cheaper if you just made your own people, buildings, and cars. Especially if you're trying to re-create a historical railroad and town.

Before you get mad, model railroaders call it the greatest hobby. Which it might be... currently.
 

jhitesma

Some guy in the desert
Mentor
#19
I backed the peachy on KS, heck for $100 I figured it's worth the gamble. Will be interesting to see if it becomes a viable printer. I'm not sure about the properties of the resin for hobby parts though. I've started building a reprap a few times but keep getting put off by the costs of the linear motion parts.

I'm watching the Simpson and Wally developments though and am hoping that by the time I get my peachy it may be possible to use the peachy to print the parts for a Simpson or Wally.

Even so I just don't see 3D printing as a great option for most parts I'd want to make. I mainly one one for making mold forms to try doing some casting of parts.

The stuff this guy: http://lcamtuf.coredump.cx/gcnc/ pulls off though really has me interested in more "traditional" means of manufacturing parts. As cool as 3D printing is you're not going to make parts like this with it yet:


3D printing is really impressive and can do some neat stuff and I'm dying to build a printer...but it's just not affordable or practical for highly repeatable quality parts just yet. Will be soon, probably sooner than I expect (and I expect it pretty quick) but for now I see it more as something to experiment with than anything super serious for creating bits for my hobbies.
 

Tritium

Amateur Extra Class K5TWM
#20
True. Model railroading ("the world's greatest hobby") would be a lot cheaper if you just made your own people, buildings, and cars. Especially if you're trying to re-create a historical railroad and town.

Before you get mad, model railroaders call it the greatest hobby. Which it might be... currently.
IF I could get the "Back to the Future III" train model from the closing scenes then YES it would be the greatest, but not until! :p

Thurmond