Toronto Electric Model Aviation Club Forum

Toronto Electric Model Aviation Club (TEMAC) => Building / Construction => Topic started by: Gil.E on August 07, 2017, 10:02:44 pm

Title: 3D Printed RC Models
Post by: Gil.E on August 07, 2017, 10:02:44 pm
Here is a brief list of links for anyone interested in getting started with 3D printing their own models:

1. PLANS -
Get your "plans" or more accurately all the STL models required here:

The price per model varies between $20 to $40.  3Dlabprint is actually based on the work of a single designer, Stepan Dokoupil. He posted his first model (the Spitfire) back in 2015 and since then released a new model every few months. As such, each model progressed in terms of build quality and complexity. The latest models are recommend to start with since they make construction easier.  You can download and review the assembly instructions guides and online videos directly on  before making a decision. Some of the models are very sophisticated and include printed parts such as tires, using flexible filaments, or complex parts such as suspension springs for LG struts.

2. Materials - The recommended material for these models is PLA, however after much experimentation (including my split PLA Spitfire fuselage)  I found out that PLA+ from eSUN is a much more suitable and stronger plastic for the job. The best price source for eSUN's PLA+ I found is from a local a Toronto shop:

1Kg of PLA+ filament goes for about $29 CDN (or $27 if mean business and buy the 3Kg spools)

An average model (40” wing span) would end up requiring somewhere between 500g  to 750g of plastic. So the printed material cost should be somewhere between $15 to $25. That figures usually depends on how good is your 3D printer, that is, how many bad prints or partial prints you end up tossing in the garbage.

All PLA plastic parts are glued together using regular gap filler CA glue, sprayed with copious amounts of CA accelerator.

3. Printing Time -  Parts can be printed one by one or grouped together in batches. Again this is assuming you have a solid printer setup, with good printing bed adhesion. When grouped together, an entire plane parts set can be completed within 40 to 60 print hours, or about one week if you rely on overnight print operations. Load your files in the evening, pray while you sleep, and collect your printed parts off the machine in the morning.
4. Software (optional) - Setup time for printing can be reduced to zero if you own a copy of Simpliy3D (high end Slicer software) since 3dLabPrint plans now also includes the Simpliy3D ‘Factory’  files for all their models. This allows for fire-and-forget printing, without the need to spend endless hours tweaking your print process settings.
While Simpliy3D is far from being cheap ($150 USD) it is well worth the money if you value your sleep time. In my experience anyone who is planning to print their own model should seriously consider purchasing Simplify3D as part of their 3D printer investment:

Finally, if 3D printing is not your thing (too expensive, too time consuming, yet-to-be mature technology) but you still like to try building RC models from Plastic, you can always order all the printed parts from printing houses.

The web site just introduced a new service in recent months, offering 3dLabPrint printed part kits:

As for building techniques and other related headaches (mostly cause by excessive CA glue fumes inhalation), I can post my notes on the forum in model specific build threads, if there's any interest...   

Title: Re: 3D Printed RC Models
Post by: Palkina on August 08, 2017, 09:24:11 pm
Thank you Gil for very good introduction to the RC planes printing business. Seems like my next buy is a 3D printer. ;D
Title: Re: 3D Printed RC Models
Post by: Gil.E on August 09, 2017, 12:29:28 am
That leads to the next big question Carlos: which printer should you get ?  ???

There are dozen of good models to choose from with prices varying from low end $200s USD Chinese kits with free shipping to professional machines costing a few thousands.   

I would recommend looking at the following 3 popular models in 3 price levels depending on how much you are willing to spend and how much free time you are prepared to work on your 3D printer instead of building RC models.

All 3 printer listed below comes as kits with some assembly required. You may buy pre-assembled versions but be prepared to add about $200 to the price

1.  Top end: Original Prusa i3 MK2S kit  $699 USD or about $1000 CAD after you include shipping from Europe.
This machine has top reviews and will get you printing right away with minimal amount of tweaking. Top choice if you have the budget for it.

this machine is so popular there is a backlog of a few months before you get your machine shipped out. Currently Prusa is producing them at the rate of ~1000 printers per month and cant keep up with demand.

2. Medium Range: Creality CR-10 $650 CAD free shipping (as slow as 3D printing) from China
This recently introduced printer is the machine everybody and their brother is raving about on YouTube reviews.
Seems to print very well right "out of the box" (after 2 to 3 hours of assembly). Also has very large print volume, above the standard 20x20x20cm you get from other machines.

Get it here: 

Or purchase it locally for quick delivery and get some technical support from the shop owner if you have any issues:

3. Low end - ANET A8  Entry level budget machine for only $200 CAD  free shipping from GearBest or Banggodd:

Go with this one for minimal expense, however be prepared to spend significant time tweaking it, or fixing issues with supplied kit quality (mostly a matter of luck).
Luckily there is lots of user groups support found in forums with many upgrades and improvements:

Bottom line, if you are not looking for a new winter hobby,  I suggest skipping all the DIY fun and pay more for option 1 or Option 2 to get you started faster.