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Thread: Printing your own planes

  1. #1

    Default Printing your own planes

    My daughter asked me if I would be interested in going halves for a 3D printer and that got me wondering what is involved in printing your own planes and how difficult it might be. I would imagine I would have to source a file with the print pattern in it and buy the appropriate material to print them from. Has anyone got a home aircraft factory going here and is it economical to do so?

  2. #2


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    Martin
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    Gary, I'd caution against looking for sufficiently fine resolution from a home, hobby printer, unless you're willing to shell out quite a few shekels.

    A quick breakdown of the types of printers:

    Most hobby printers are of the extrusion type, that melt a wire of ABS plastic through a mobile printing head, which lays down plastic one thin layer at a time.

    The UP Mini and Makerbot ranges are examples of this style of 3D desktop printer. You're looking at about $600 to $2000 for one of these.

    These are great for 'chunky' objects, but usually lack the ability to print as fine or as smoothly as wargamers may desire for miniatures at 1/144 or 1/200 scales. On the upside, the ABS is strong and can be sanded, drilled, and painted like a regular plastic model (AB is, essentially, the same material Lego is made from.)


    Then there are Polyjets - like those in the Objet range - that lay down really thin layers of material (20-40 microns) that are 'fixed' by UV light or other chemical process, allowing extremely fine detail and stability. This is the sort of printer now being used so widely in the gaming industry to make digital 'greens' for casting miniatures. Unfortunately, they are pricey. Really pricey. At least 10 times the price of an extrusion printer.


    Let me recommend you and your daughter to FabLab Adelaide - it's a community-based 'makerspace' on Pultney St, accessible on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons. They have a bunch of extrusion printers you can try out with your own files for a gold coin donation per print.

    They've also a big display of printed stuff on hand, so you can see and feel the surface finish, detail resolution, etc.

    Here's their website:

    http://fablabadelaide.org.au/

    As to where you get files to print - take a look at the Thingiverse site:

    https://www.thingiverse.com/search?q...45a17f8bea2f7c

    - it's a free resource of ready-to-print files for all kinds of models, gadgets and stuff.

    Load something you like from Thingiverse onto a USB stick, take it to FabLab, and have a go. Tell 'em Martin sent you!

    - Cheers!

  3. #3

    Default

    Thank you Martin will pass that info on.

  4. #4

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    Echoing Martin's thoughts in general...
    The machines used by Shapeways, subcontractors, and other print-shops are big US$50,000 - $500,000 machines. That's for two reasons: they can put out the volume and speed to make prints economical on larger scales, and they can produce much finer details than more affordable "home printers".

    Now, it is interesting to speculate where things might be in twenty years from now: perhaps your home 3D printer will do much better than anything we can obtain today! And I certainly hope we'll have full-color prints in the next decade in various plastics.



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