Drones are super-cool, but they are an expensive hobby. Those that like the idea of a drone but lack the funds to fulfill their dreams then can only watch on, as the world goes drone mad. But all is not lost.
You can still have a lot of fun with a cheap remote-controlled quadcopter. These are effectively drones, after all, only they aren’t all that advanced – so they won’t be causing a nuisance for airplanes or break the bank when you snap an arm or burn out a motor.
With regard to that, it’s easy to break something on a drone or a quadcopter; while these machines are designed to be hardy, one dodgy landing can spell disaster. So when Samrat, an engineer at Markforged decided to 3D print his own quadcopter, there really was only one material up to the task – composite reinforced nylon.
There’s only one 3D printer in the world that can print with composites and that’s the Mark One from Markforged. The Mark One has the ability to reinforce nylon parts with fiberglass or carbon fibre or Kevlar in the case of the professional model. Nylon parts printed with continuous strands of composite are 20x stiffer and 5x stronger than nylon plastic parts, and depending on the amount of composite used, parts can be stronger than metal.
Samrat used the Hovership MHQ2 as a base for his creation. The MHQ2, designed by Hovership, is one of the finest 3D printable quadcopters in the world. It’s got it all and it was recently redesigned for improved flight stability.
Here’s a picture of Hovership’s MHQ2, as taken from Thingiverse:
Samrat wasn’t completely happy with the specifications of the MHQ2 however, so he made some adjustments to the design to make it his own. Plate thickness was increased by 2mm to improve body stiffness and to increase the height of the landing gear, so an iPhone 4S battery could be installed at the bottom.
Here, we can see Samrat’s quadcopter coming together:
For the quadcopter’s arms, Samrat chose nylon and fiberglass – this mix of materials has the highest strength-to-cost ratio in the Markforged range. And for the frame, Samrat chose nylon and carbon fibre – this has the highest strength-to-weight ratio. In fact, most of the body of his quadcopter is reinforced with carbon fibre for maximum strength.
Here, we can see the quadcopter coming together:
Samrat decided to change some things about the quadcopter. For instance, he changed the location of the powerpack. Below, we can see the finished model which looks much cleaner than the one above:
And here’s the quadcopter on its test flight – buzz buzz buzz!
So there we have it, one 3D printed drone. If you are using your 3D printer for awesome stuff, please do let us know – we may cover it on our blog! For more information about this project, follow our sources below:
Story (Markforged), Thingiverse, MHQ2 build guide.