Airplane model

Contributed by
Jacky Wan

The allure of flight has always captured the human spirit of freedom, exploration and ingenuity. With 3D printing reaching an unprecedented level of accessibility, that same spark can now be explored by everyone! What better way to learn, explore and play than to print an airplane on the Ultimaker!

Design Philosophy

Whether you are engineering for aerospace, testing aerodynamics in a wind tunnel, or just want to build a model plane kit with your kid, we have something for you! Follow along, and we’ll show you how to print and assemble your own airplane.

Valcrow's Airplane Model

This airplane was designed to be printed on a printer with the equivalent build height of an Ultimaker 2 Extended+, because it uses its maximum build volume. Scaling it down for smaller printers may result in the smaller parts losing detail or increase the chance of failure during print. It is designed to be snap fit, and requires no additional tools, adhesives or fittings. Most parts are printed hollow for material efficiency, surface quality and weight.

What You Need

Start by downloading the free model files on YouMagine.

Airplane 3D Exploded View

You will need to print the following groups. We recommend you setup the build-plates as shown in the images for best results with our recommended settings.

Group A

  • Airplane_Fuselage_Back.stl
  • Airplane_Fuselage_Front.stl
  • Airplane_Wing_LEFT.stl (1x normal, 1x mirrored)
  • Airplane_Wing_Tail_LEFT.stl (1x normal, 1x mirrored)
  • Airplane_Wing_Tail_Top.stl

Airplane Fuselage Back
Airplane Fuselage Back
Airplane Fuselage Front
Airplane Fuselage Front
Airplane Wing Left
Airplane Wing Left

Airplane Wing Tail Left
Airplane Wing Tail Left
Airplane Wing Tail Top
Airplane Wing Tail Top

Quality
Layer height0.06 - 0.09
Shell thickness0.8
Fill
Bottom/top thickness0.8
Fill density0
Speed and Temperature
Print speed40
SupportNone
Platform adhesionBrim
Advanced
Nozzle size0.4
Quality
Initial layer thickness0
Initial layer line width100
Speed
Travel speed170
Bottom layer speed15
Infill speed0
Top/bottom speed0
Outer shell speed0
Inner shell speed0
Minimum layer time10

Group A is all printed hollow since each object ends in a point. This speeds the print up, uses less material and provides a better surface finish. All the objects are designed to print as vertical as possible to take advantage of the increased Z resolution.

Note the rotation of the wings, they should be rotated at a 45 degree angle to minimize the stepping that occurs on extremely gentle curves.

A good first layer adhesion is paramount to the success of these prints due to the height of the print. This is also the reason why only one object is printed at once, the head moving between objects can knock the prints over, but is less likely to occur with a single object.

You will need to mirror the left wing in Cura for the right wing version.

Group B

  • Airplane_Engine_Holder_A.stl (1x normal, 1x mirrored)
  • Airplane_Engine_Holder_B.stl (1x normal, 1x mirrored)

Airplane Engine Holder
Airplane Engine Holder

Quality
Layer height0.06 - 0.09
Shell thickness0.8
Fill
Bottom/top thickness0.8
Fill density15
Speed and Temperature
Print speed45
Platform adhesionBrim
Advanced
Nozzle size0.4

You need to print both the normal A and B versions of the engine, and mirrored versions to get 4 engines total. You can print all the engines at once to save time. Get them as close together as possible to reduce stringing. The brim and first layer adhesion is again very important to this print as the contact point is relatively small.

Group C

  • Airplane_Engine_Turbine.stl (4x)

Airplane Engine Turbine
Airplane Engine Turbine

Quality
Layer height0.09
Shell thickness0.8
Fill
Bottom/top thickness0.8
Fill density0
Speed and Temperature
Print speed35
Platform adhesionBrim
Print orderOne at a time
Advanced
Nozzle size0.25

The turbines are best printed one at a time with a smaller nozzle. In this case the 0.25mm nozzle will do nicely. To remove the support, cut around the brim, and then gently separate the turbine blades from the cylindrical support structure.

Do not print all 4 turbines in “all at once” mode or the excessive retraction required for each blade will cause the filament to grind down in a very small error possibly leading to failure.

Group D

  • Airplane_Torso_PIN.stl
  • Airplane_Fuselage_PIN.stl
  • Stand_Angled.stl

Airplane Torso and Fuselage Pins
Airplane Torso and Fuselage Pins
Stand Angled
Stand Angled

Quality
Layer height0.12
Shell thickness0.8
Fill
Bottom/top thickness0.8
Fill density15
Speed and Temperature
Print speed45
Platform adhesionNone
Advanced
Nozzle size0.4

The final pieces are not visually critical so you may print them at a higher layer height since they will be hidden from view. There is a B version of the pins with a looser tolerance incase your particular printer tends to over extrude a little bit. But use the A type pins to start, if they are far too tight, use the B pins.

Material Selection

We suggest using PLA due to its low warping properties and excellent adhesion to glass. If you use ABS or other more warp-y materials that don’t stick well onto the platform, it may knock over the print as the lever forces intensify at the top.

NOTE: Not all brands of PLA are created equal, we’ve noticed some stick onto the glass better than others. For Ultimaker PLA, clean glass is recommended with standard profiles. Other brands may require additional glue/hairspray/tape for such tall prints.

We used standard Ultimaker profile settings for materials.

  • 210° C nozzle temperature
  • 60° C bed temperature
  • Clean glass bed

Assembly Guide

Follow this guide to assemble the separate prints into the airplane model, or check out our timelapse as a reference!
Insert main tail
Start with the tail end of the fuselage and insert the main tail wing with the sharp corner first. Press the front to fit.
Insert side tail fins
Then insert the side tail fins the same way.

Both sides
The fins go in on both sides. They should fit snuggly and only have a small seam.
Insert fuselage pin
With the tail fins installed, insert the small pin in the double dovetail slot on one side. This should be fairly tight. You may need to trim or sand to fit.

Slide front fuselage into place
Take the front portion of the fuselage and slide into place.

Slide together with no gap
It should slide together as shown with almost no gap or play in any part.

Insert triangular pin
Set aside the fuselage for now and insert the triangular pin into the slot for one of the wings. Use B group pins if you find the pins are too tight.

Insert wing
Insert the one side of the wing with the pin attached into the body. There should be almost no resistance.

Snap on other wing
Snap the other side of the wing on, locking all the pieces in place.
Complete body
The main body should now be nicely fitted together! Next, the engines.

Snap engine into wing
Choose the appropriate engine and snap them into place. Take note of the length of connector and the angle where it mates with the wing to determine the correct engine.

Insert turbines
Clean up the turbine from the support and drop them into place! A small dab of super glue can be applied to keep it in place.

Snap on stand
Finally snap on the stand, and you’re done!

Completed airplane
A finished fully printed airplane.

Congrats, you are now the proud owner of an airplane model! Don't forget to show your print off in our 3D print section. And if you have any questions or comments about this model or the guide, please tell us on the Ultimaker community forum!

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