The purpose of this paper is to investigate the possibility of manufacturing fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printed structures such as wings or fuselages for small remote control (RC) air craft and mini unmaned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Material tests, design assumptions and calculations were verified by designing and manufacturing a small radio-controlled motor-glider using as many printed parts as possible and performing test flights.
It is possible to create an aircraft with good flight characteristics using FDM 3D printed parts. Current level of technology allows for reasonably fast manufacturing of 3D printed aircraft with good reliability and high success ratio of prints; however, only some of the materials are suitable for printing thin wall structures such as wings.
The paper proves that apart from currently popular small RC aircraft structural materials such as composites, wood and foam, there is also printed plastic. Moreover, 3D printing is highly competitive in some aspects such as first unit production time or production cost.
The presented manufacturing technique can be useful for quick and cost-effective creating scale prototypes of the aircraft for performing test flights.
Skawiński, I. and Goetzendorf-Grabowski, T. (2019), "FDM 3D printing method utility assessment in small RC aircraft design", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 91 No. 6, pp. 865-872. https://doi.org/10.1108/AEAT-07-2018-0189
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