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Rapid-Prototyped Blended-Wing-Body Slope Soarer


Junior Member
Hi everyone,

On the podcast Rapid-Prototyping (3d printing) has been mentioned a few times relating to parts like motor mounts and camera gimbals.
Here's a project being done in Sheffield (UK), a fully printed airframe with a wingspan of 1.5 metres, coming in at under 2kg.

AMRC - FDM-printed fixed wing UAV

It's a slope soarer at the moment, but there are plans to add ducted fans and more electronics for autonomous flight etc.



Junior Member
Hi Jordan, I'm an import into Sheffield (from Ireland) but good to know there are others around the area on the FT forum. Yea it's Callow bank, there are a couple of other guys in the office who fly there and it was a good place to test the airframe.
I'm only getting started with flying, but it looks like there is no shortage of places to fly around the area.

There were a few people in the office who liked your video of the Sheffield Ski Village, even if it made them sad to see how quickly its turned into a set from the walking dead.


Junior Member
At the moment the project is really about pushing the limits of the 3d printers and how we design large parts. The group are working on ways to print big parts like wings quickly with little or no waste material and methods to reduce part counts in assemblies.
The UAV is perfect for testing and displaying lots of other things like simulation, materials, electronics etc... and it's not a chore to work on either! :)
Hey mate. I'm super impressed that was 3d printed. Was it printed in parts and stuck together? Or do you guys have a massive print volume on your printer? Did you have to sand down the surface? Or did you fly it with the rough 3d printed surface it comes out with? I'd love to learn more.


Junior Member
Cheers eagle4, we are lucky to have access to a Stratasys Fortus 900mc with a print volume 914 x 610 x 914 mm (36 x 24 x 36 in.).

The project brief was to develop our groups ability to design large/tall thin walled parts for the FDM 3d print process. The wing skin is a mix of single and double layers with some internal ribs/structures (semi-monocoque). To reduce cost and print time the parts were printed with without support materials (desolvable or breakaway). The wings were printed vertically like the one in the left of the photo below and all the parts fit on the print bed in a single build.


To make assembly and transport easier the whole airframe splits in half and was made from only 9 parts; Two wings, two elevons, two spars, two wing end fences and a central spine. These all slide and clip together without fixings.
It has been a good project so far, it has forced the team to consider ways to modify the CAD to allow functional features to be built into the wing without adding unnecessary material or removable supports.

No sanding required, it can be assembled straight from the machine. Added the colours to the wing tips for orientation, added the electronics, balanced and flown.
I'm so jealous, i'd love to have a Fortus 900mc to play around with. the fact that you can print the entire airframe in one print is also impressive. although it makes sense to print it with the wings standing up, any stepping in the 3d printing will actually be running in the direction of the airflow, so it may actually help stability.

great photo showing off the wings and other bits and pieces. I'd love to see how you've got it designed so they all clip together.

Are there holes in the wings for the servos?

I'm really keen to learn more about this design. I have been thinking about 3d printing a plane, i just dont have access to a 3d printer that could get anywhere near close enough to what you guys have.

oh and welcome to the forums :)


Junior Member
Cheers, I'm only getting going with r/c. I've been following the FT channel and forums for a while, hope I can add to them more. Just finished a Versa, I am aiming to make some mods with printed parts which I'll share.

Yeah the big printer is an massive advantage, but one of the main goals of the project was to make the structure self supporting through the whole build. I've been playing with reprap based printers for a few years and as people push the printer sizes up this height of part will be more widely accessible.

There are a few holes for access to the electronics on the bottom of the wing, none on the top. The servos were held by features within the wing and drove the elevons directly (no linkage).
The size of the parts meant the guys could design big contact areas for friction fit and clips. It gets much harder to get clips to work in small parts.