Maiden flight of world's largest 3d printed plane


I know posting about 3D printed planes on here usually results in 50 comments of people saying "give me some cardboard and packing tape and i could build something better in an hour..." so I would like to preface this with saying that this was an academic exercise and the vision for the future is that you could upload your mission requirements to an interface, some software would design an airplane optimized for your mission, and then a printer would print it, all without a human in the loop. So, yes, I understand the practicality implications, but I think this is a very interesting exercise.

That being said... we finally got our plane to fly! The aircraft was designed by a group of students from Purdue University, Brigham-Young University, and Georgia Tech during the last academic year but it was never flown before the students graduated. An attempt was made but the motor ingested some gravel and blew neodymium chunks everywhere. I upgraded the propulsion system, modified the control surfaces (they used to be printed but they were very delicate) and that's about it. For this flight, I took out the ardupilot and just flew it manually.

Video of the flight here

All up weight with batteries was 12.000 lbs. Span is 8', and I can dig up area and wing loading and all that stuff. Flew it off 2 5S 5000mAh batteries ganged together to make 10S. 16x12 prop.'

Aircraft is almost entirely FDM, made on a fortus machine. There is a carbon fiber spar running down the wing and the control surfaces are foam. Other than that, everything you see is ABS.

Very wiggly in yaw, which was surprising as the scale model we flew last year was fine. Could be the fancy winglet design.

As you can see from the video, the landing was on the hot side, but the structure held up impeccably. There are sacrificial landing skids that did their job and broke on impact and we can just pop new ones in to fly again.

All in all, I'm overjoyed it finally flew! It's been quite a few months since the last attempt.


E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Wow! What a nice bird! And i  love the sound on its first (motor-powered) fly by. Awesome! im currently doing something not so advanced, only the body will be 3d Printed wings are cut from Styrofoam and its only 95cm (3.1') wingspan :)  and same goes for my plane its more an exercise to push my own horizon. :)

    Printing the whole plane is something totally over my ability im glad if i manage to build strong and lightweight enough with "traditional" methods.
    So i really congratulate you to your achievement.


  • I'll see if we can get the STL files out. Shouldn't be a problem. The bigger problem is your control over your printer... all the internal structure in the wing is 1 filament wide which can be hard to do unless you can get really into the modeling and slicing... They were all actually done as surfaces in CAD so the printer software would interpret it correctly. At the very least, you could just take a look at how the CAD was done. You would also need a big printer :) most of these parts were 24" tall, or just under. 

  • MR60

    gg. I like also your rolling "take-off" system; first time I've seen something like it.

  • Could we get the STL files  ?

  • we actually used a little packing tape ourselves... hard to break from old habits entirely!

  • Moderator

    Well done, now wheres my packing tape.

This reply was deleted.