3D Printable VTOL Wing

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Why 3D print it? 

3D printing is undoubtably becoming more applicable as industries have adopted its technology, but its capability of producing a light, practical, and small aircraft is questionable. And considering electric VTOLs seem to be all the hype recently, I thought I'd combine both of these challenges. The goal of this project was to push the limits of 3D printing by designing a fully printable flying wing with VTOL (vertical take off or landing) capabilities, and considering I've never built or flown a 3D printed aircraft before, I knew this would be a challenge.

With its incremental build process, 3D printing allows for manufacturing of shapes that would otherwise require more tedious processes. Unfortunately, the plastics used (PLA in this case) are considerably higher in density than conventional materials including foam and fiberglass. Because of this, extra care was taken during design to ensure that each component was as light as possible, especially since I wanted a relatively small wingspan of 800 mm. This included using a shell thickness of .8 mm for the wings, designing the elevons and winglets to be covered with a light film, and ensuring that the aircraft was designed around a reasonable center of gravity to eliminate unnecessary weight. Additionally, this concept was designed around a bicopter configuration in take off or landing, so a flight controller combined with dual motors and large control surfaces were implemented.

Specifications -

Total Flying Weight: 650 grams

Wingspan: 800 mm

Airfoil: NACA 2412

Wing Loading: 16.58 oz/ft^2 

Planform Area: 208.4 in^2

Sweep Angle: 29.7 deg

Sweep Distance: 194 mm

Root Chord: 211 mm

Tip Chord: 115 mm

Calculated CG: 110 - 120 mm from leading edge of fuselage section 

4 Channels: Throttle, mixed elevons, and differential throttle for yaw

Parts List - 

T-Motor F60 Pro 2600kv motors

DYS XSD30A ESCs

XM+ Frsky receiver 

MG90S metal gear servos

Any standard F4 FC 

3 18650 Lithium Ion Batteries in Series 

CA hinges

18 gauge silicon wire

PRINT Information -

Thingiverse link: 

Printer Used: CR-10 with PEI build plate

Total Print Time: Roughly 50 hours

Printer Settings in Cura:

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Complete aircraft designed in Fusion 360

Complete aircraft designed in Fusion 360

Rendered version with functional components

Rendered version with functional components

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Separately printed parts

Separately printed parts

Motor mount/cowling weighing in at 7.1 grams, 5% infill seemed to result in light components with reasonable strength

Motor mount/cowling weighing in at 7.1 grams, 5% infill seemed to result in light components with reasonable strength

Holes in winglet surface are implemented for later covering with light film. You can also see the minimal thickness of wing shell in this image at only 1 mm

Holes in winglet surface are implemented for later covering with light film. You can also see the minimal thickness of wing shell in this image at only 1 mm

Wing with motor mount, winglet and elevon added, weighing in at 166.9 grams

Wing with motor mount, winglet and elevon added, weighing in at 166.9 grams

Motor mounts were designed to encase the ESCs

Motor mounts were designed to encase the ESCs

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Assembled motor mount with 6 inch propeller

Assembled motor mount with 6 inch propeller

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Minimalistic design for elevons to prevent CG from shifting too aft

Minimalistic design for elevons to prevent CG from shifting too aft

Assembled elevon with CA hinges

Assembled elevon with CA hinges

Lamination of the elevons

Lamination of the elevons

Completed lamination after ironing

Completed lamination after ironing

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Same lamination process was used for winglets

Same lamination process was used for winglets

Servos, linkages, and control horns installed

Servos, linkages, and control horns installed

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Magnetic hatch with inlet for cooling

Magnetic hatch with inlet for cooling