3D Printed Quad Copter


I finally received my Makerbot Replicator (makerbot.com) and I am VERY impressed. After printing a handful of objects off of Thingiverse and dialing in my printer I promptly began work on my version of 3D printed quadcopter. I had a fair bit of practice using Google Sketchup from time is spent designing a handful of tricopters so naturally I started there. Sketchup is a very powerful program for being free and is very easy to learn, however there are some shortcomings to the program when it comes to 3D printing. I'll cover this in later posts but for now I would just like to show you my progress up until now. The incredible thing about 3D printing is how quickly you can prototype a concept. Sketchup is great for visualizing and object but it can never beat actually being able to hold it in your hand and inspect it. You get the feel of it. The weight of it. You can flex it and bend it. To flimsy? Add more material there. Overbuilt? Remove material here. It is simply incredible, a couple of late nights after work and I pretty much have the arms the way I want them.


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  • Two different technologies. If you are looking for that kind of 3D printer there is already one available as a kit and soon the entire plans and software will be released to public. Go to http://www.b9creator.com

  • Moderator

    I'm sorry for being off-topic a bit. How would you compare Makerbot with http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/formlabs/form-1-an-affordable-p... ?  Did someone go and see it in Makerfare NY?

  • Developer

    Mike, did you have any warping problem when printing those long arms? I have older Makerbot and parts tend to warp a bit if they are more than 7cm long. Been planning to upgrade to replicator too.

    Nice looking parts :)

    How long it took to print one arm?

  • Nice work Mike !,

     I thought about buying one of these, but what has stopped me so far, is I am just not sure where and how much free shared data there is out there to build stuff. I didn't want to buy one, and end up making kids toy figures for a week before I end up selling it again.

  • Please do post the Thingiverse link when you get there, I too would like to print it on my Replicator.  I'd argue for posting sooner rather than later, with the work in progress flag on until you're happy with it.  Better to get it out into the community than wait for perfection.  

  • Thats too bad, its seems like the TOM is bigger than that.  Thanks for the advice.  I am still very new to this thing and it take a while to figure out what each variable does.  They are very fussy machines sometimes.  But now that I have mine humming I can dial it in a bit more.  I will definitely try dropping the extruder temp down a bit.

  • Too bad, the TOM diagonal is 169mm max.  That's one advantage of the replicator.  You got a point turning the arms 180 will require supports.  Actually from my experience, slowing down the print is not the solution. The problem is that the plastic is getting runny. In fact speeding up the feed speed might help, but them your print is more prone to shrinkage.  I would suggest dialing down the temperature to 215, and see if it improves.

    The quad in my picture was printed in Shapeways, they use a SLS printer.  It's very sharp, and you can print things without worrying about supports.  It's avaiable here:

  • They are 8 1/2 inches end to end.  How large is the TOM platform?  I'm at 220 on the extruder I was just thinking i need to level the platform again and maybe slow dow the print speed or the layer height?  Are you suggesting printing the arms or the body plate upside down?  If I flip the arms over they will need to be built with support and those post just need a little sanding to finnish them but it leaves the top (show) surface nice and clean.  Did you print your quad off the TOM.  It looks very well finished.

  • Nice.  How long are those arms.  I wonder if I can print them on the diagonal of my Thing-O-Matic.  Looks like you need to dial down the temperature a little, since the tops of the parts where the screws go is a little rough and will need sanding to fit square.  I suggest you flip it 180 degrees go that the part where parts meet are on the heated platform.  This will make it smooth and with no sanding required to fit.

  • Does the density or shape of the ABS change the material contraction amount? If not both should remain the same other than the normal 3D printing stubble. You could also make the male part of the snap slightly larger and sand it to a more precise fit. 

    This is very interesting! Thanks for sharing.

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