Matthew Butchard is the Research and Development Lead Designer at SAS International, one of the UK”s major manufacturers of interior products. Towards the back-end of last year, he got his hands on the 3Doodler, the world’s most preeminent and popular 3D printing pen. While most of the 3Doodled designs we have so far seen have been pretty but, practically-speaking, pointless, Butchard has taken things up a level.
For the last six months, he has been working on a fully functional remote control airplane and, this week, he’s revealed his invention to the world. And, according to Butchard, it is just the beginning:
In a way, if I can make the 3Doodler plane fly then perhaps I can do all the other things I dream about: today a 3Doodler RC plane, tomorrow a 3D printed solar updraft tower made of sand!
Getting this far was not, however, a painless process. After drawing the plane in a simple cross braced structure based upon some balsa wood plans he found online, Butchard attempted to mount a modern RC motor on top of it. Unfortunately, the gear proved too heavy and the plane didn’t survive test flights without taking damage.
Luckily, thanks to the 3Doodler, the designer could merely re-draw the injured areas and start again. After a few attempts, Butchard managed to mount the RC kit casino alongside a new propeller and battery. He finished the controls and the plane itself, before sanding down the contact surface and using PVA glue to cover the structure in Litespan.
As you can see in the below video, it’s still not perfect, and Butchard will need to make a few more adjustments before it is ready for a long, uninterrupted flight. If you want to see how he does, you can follow his progress on his blog.
Writing about the advantages of creating models using the 3Doodler, Butchard said:
This type of free form construction is one aspect that sets the 3Doodler apart from conventional 3D printing where I would have to measure, design and accurately position everything in a virtual 3D model before printing the parts. With the 3Doodler, you just do it. If you’re not happy with it then cut it out and do it again. It really is sketching in 3D, your first draft, your idea made reality to see how it works, how you can improve it before you progress into a detailed design.