If you're at all handy with 3D drafting tools, you can have the most amazing objects printed for you at Shapeways. Above is just one example, a cockpit for a P-51 Mustang.

You can print in a wide range of materials, from flexible plastic to stainless steel. And it's remarkably cheap, usually around $2-$3 per cubic centimeter.

Shapeways can accept output from many 3D authoring tools, but I prefer Alibre, which is designed for physical objects and is affordable ($99). Lots of people use the free Sketchup, too, although because it's designed for virtual objects it can be a little tricky to ensure that your design will print properly. Others use everything from Blender (open source, crazy hard to use) to Solidworks ($5,000!).

Here's another example: an EasyStar FPV cockpit mount that Jason Short designed and 3D printed. Pretty cool, huh?

Coming out of the 3D printer:

Views: 3476

Comment by Bart on December 2, 2010 at 12:19pm
Why not print a complete fuselage?
Comment by Jonathan Lussier on December 2, 2010 at 12:23pm
weight, probably!
Comment by Lew Payne on December 2, 2010 at 1:07pm
Thanks for providing the community a great source of custom-made parts!

Comment by John Arne Birkeland on December 2, 2010 at 1:28pm
$2-3 per cm3 might sound cheap but it quickly adds up. The size a golf ball is 77 cm3.

Comment by Jason Short on December 2, 2010 at 5:46pm
These parts are built in layers and can de-lanimate in a crash. You can use acrylic solvent to fuse the layers for more strength. Thin Cyano will work as well when it soaks in.

My canopy came in at maybe 35 grams.
Comment by Michael Zaffuto on December 2, 2010 at 7:04pm
golf ball diameter of 1.68 inches yields volume of 40.7 cm3

Comment by Sandro Benigno on December 2, 2010 at 8:41pm
I wanna try it someday. Very cool.
Even more, after read the specific weight of some materials.
E.g. "White, Strong & Flexible" have 0.98g/cc against 1.19g/cc of acrylic.
Comment by Serge on December 3, 2010 at 1:47am
for some who are interested in producing more custom parts; it may even be worthwile to buy your own 3D printing machine: www.mendel-parts.com
it will set you7 back 700 euro, but then you're good to go :)
downside is that it will only print one type of material; nylon i believe.
Comment by Serge on December 3, 2010 at 1:50am
my bad; the material is PLA (polylactic acid) and it comes in a variety of colors =]
Comment by Eli Cohen on December 3, 2010 at 7:13am
if you shell out for that printer (a dimension elite?), itll actually only cost 25 cents per cc. a cartridge holds 1000 cc's and costs 250 bucks. there is a small amount of support material used as well, but way less than a 1:1 ratio, most of the time. if they're charging ~2.50/cc, theyll recoup their loss on the machine (ignoring electricity usage) after about 12 cartridges of plastic (= a verrrrry long print job)


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