Editor’s Note: We’re partnering with 3DAeroventures, Eric’s brand new YouTube channel, to help bring you a four-part video series, going from foam glider in part one to a full-on, 3D printed acrobatic R/C aircraft by part 4! The aim? To educate us – and his seven-year-old – on aerodynamic principles, while having fun in the process. Be sure to subscribe to his channel via part one to keep track of Eric and his son’s progress, leading all the way up to 3DEXPERIENCE World 2020!
For me, taking a reel of plastic filament and transforming it into a killer-looking, fully functional R/C Airplane is what dreams are made of. This is something I couldn’t even fathom as a child, as my dad and I would spend weeks or even months building model airplane kits from a pile of balsa wood.
In our first 3DAeroventures video, sponsored by SOLIDWORKS, we started simple by taking an off-the-shelf foam glider and hacking it into an R/C airplane using CAD and 3D printing.
This turned out to be a super fun and simple way to dip your toe into R/C flight. In this second video, I’m getting more complex by designing and 3D printing the entire aircraft! This comes with a whole set of questions and engineering challenges. Primarily, can you 3D print an aircraft on an inexpensive desktop printer, out of inexpensive, generic plastic that is light enough to fly, yet strong enough to survive the forces of flight?
For my first fully 3D printed airplane design, I figured I’d start as simple as possible by designing a flying wing. A standard airplane configuration typically has a distinguishable body, or fuselage, a fixed main wing, and a tail comprised of a horizontal and a vertical stabilizer. A flying wing, on-the-other-hand, is simply a wing with a motor on it that has no distinguishable fuselage, and some designs have a vertical fin or winglets on the wing tips for extra stabilization.
I set out to design a simple concept flying wing, but, as I am wont to do, I made the design a bit more complex in a shallow effort to make it look cooler. What I ended up with isn’t technically a flying wing since it has a distinguishable fuselage. It’s more of a tailless, stagger wing glider, with wrap-around winglets…or something like that. Whatever you want to call it, I think you’ll agree it looks pretty awesome. And, all joking aside, there is some science behind this design.
The symmetrical biplane design will provide extra lift, and the wrap around winglets should make the tips of the wings less prone to stalling in slow flight scenarios. So it should be a pretty stable flyer. Will it fly? Check out the video to find out.