Making RC Parts with 3D Printer + Best RC Parts 3D Printer

Radio-controlled models have various applications. Many people think of the models only as children’s toys. However, this is far from the case.

There are many applications of report controlled (RC) parts in different industries. At stores, you can find inexpensive RC models for entertainment. However, if creating radio-controlled models is a serious hobby for you, you may want to incorporate them with 3D printing to extend their capabilities.

Benefits of 3D Printing RC Parts

A 3D printer can be a reliable assistant in manufacturing various elements and mechanisms of RC parts. Moreover, you can use 3D printers to improve or repair already finished models.

RC Airplanes

Man has always been attracted by the sky. However, not everyone is destined to become a pilot of a large aircraft. Nevertheless, you can be the pilot of a small copy.

Making airplanes come with many challenges. The two most common ones are:

  • The aircraft must be as light and strong as possible
  • To get the right weight distribution, you need to accurately calculate the location and weight of all components

In theory, an airplane can be made heavy since the power of modern engines would allow it to take off. However, there would be some problems:

  • The more weight, the more fuel consumption.
  • An aircraft with more weight will have a higher flight speed. Therefore, it will be difficult to follow it in the sky. To take off, it also needs to gain speed faster than lighter models. However, this would mean it has to take off from a long and flat runway, which is difficult to find.
  • Such airplanes are more difficult to control due to high speeds. Not every pilot will be able to cope with such an aircraft.

The above issues restrict the types of materials that can be used on aircraft reactors.

In classical airplane modeling, the main building materials used are 3-layer plywood and balsa. When dry, the wood from a balsa tree becomes very light. The main frame of the model is made of plywood and balsa. Where necessary, balsa is used instead of plywood.

To reduce the weight of the airplane model, the stiffeners are “perforated”. The end result is a frame like this.

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Frame model of the La-5FN fighter

After assembling and installing the electronics, the frame is covered with shrink film. Then, the weight distribution is checked before the airplane is ready to conquer the sky.

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Semi-copy model of the La-5FN fighter

On the internet, you can find many ready-made drawings and assembly instructions of model aircrafts. However, assembling a model aircraft is a long and painstaking job. The cost of an error in flying is high.

Crashed RC plane due to incorrectly fixed wings
Crashed RC plane due to incorrectly fixed wings

Using CNC machines or 3D printers can make your work a little easier. With a 3D printer, you can create durable and lightweight models that can be quickly printed and glued together.

To make the aircraft light and strong, you’ll have to make slightly unusual 3D models with thin walls and many stiffening ribs.

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MESSERSCHMITT BF 109, numerous stiffening ribs visible on the wings

Thanks to this, with a wingspan of 1032 mm, the weight of the above finished model is only 410 grams.

To make a model with a 3D printer, you don’t need to buy plywood, look for balsa and thermal film. Instead, you only need a plastic or filament reel. It is best to use plastics with low shrinkage, such as PLA or PETG, for RC airplane parts.

However, airplane models made through 3D printing have one drawback; only electric motors can be used with them. Therefore, this method may not be suitable lovers of classic internal combustion engines or hobbyists who manufacture replica models.

RC Machines

Radio controlled cars are among the most popular toys for adults and children. You can find inexpensive, small electric models or professional cars with an internal combustion engine that can accelerate to 80 km per hour at various online stores.

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However, despite its size, even a toy car can break down. Most often, suspension elements, such as the steering knuckles, may end up failing.

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Steering knuckles for RC cars scale 1/10

In most cases, the suspension elements are molded from plastic. This material becomes more brittle over time or simply breaks from a strong impact. For popular RC car models, you can find new spare parts or replace them with an aluminum counterpart. However, such spare parts cannot be found for old or not-so-popular models.

In this case, 3D printing can come to the rescue. A 3D printer can accurately recreate the desired part, and even improve it, for example, by adding stiffeners in weak places.

Hub rear for RU typewriter
Hub rear for RU typewriter 1/18

In addition to repairs, you can print upgrades for your miniature iron horses. If you have skills in 3D modeling, you can develop RC cars almost entirely using a 3D printer.

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RC machine made on a 3D printer

Water RC Models

Water radio-controlled models can be divided into conventional and replica models.

Conventional models include various boats and other RC models. We include other RC models here because not only ships and boats can move on water. For example, there are amphibian hovercraft models, or such a robot waiter in the picture below.

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Robot waiter

Copy modeling is a whole art. Ships are recreated with amazing accuracy, regardless of their scale. Experienced modellers try to make models as functional as possible, i.e., with moving anchors, lighting, rotating towers, etc.

There are even competitions where not only the accuracy of the model is evaluated, but also its driving performance.

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Model of a replica RC ship

There are many classical methods of making the hull of a ship. Unlike aeromodelling, where the model has to be as light as possible, ships are sometimes additionally weighted with ballast. The body is often made of fiberglass and epoxy resin.

One of the popular ways of making a ship is vacuum infusion. This technology is sometimes used in the shipping industry to make boats.

In this method, a separating layer (usually a spray or a special separating compound that cannot stock with epoxy), fiberglass, a sacrificial layer (for absorbing excess resin), and a drainage mesh (for better distribution of the resin) are laid in layers on the blank-form. On top, everything is covered with a vacuum film and tightly fixed to the table. It is important that everything is sealed.

GD1 caption: Vacuum infusion process

On one hand, a vacuum pump is connected (through a tank so that excess resin does not enter the pump). On the other, a resin supply tube is connected. After pumping out the air, the resin is fed through the tube and evenly distributed over the fiberglass. After curing, a strong hull is obtained. The hull can later be used as the basis for a ship.

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Ship hull made by vacuum infusion

Miniature elements of the ship are made by hand from improvised materials or casting. Very thin elements are made using photo-etching.

In copy modeling, you can create matrices, shapes, small functional elements and mechanisms through 3D printing. A good resin 3D printer can replace casting or photo-etching.

Best Technology for Making RC Parts

The best 3D printing technology to use for RC parts will depend on the properties that the finished model should have. The most popular 3D printing technologies are FDM and resin printing (SLA/LCD).

Each technology has its pros and cons.

FDM technology is based on layer-by-layer build of a model with molten plastic.

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Pros

  • Large print area. The most common workspace size is a cube with an edge of 20cm. However, there are 3D printers with much larger printable area.
  • Large selection of consumables. You can easily find the necessary material for almost any task – flexible, composite, etc.
  • Inexpensive consumables. The cost of a good plastic coil starts from $15 per kg.
  • You can print support with soluble materials. When printing models with a complex internal structure, it is impossible to work without support from a special soluble plastic.

Cons

  • Imperfect surface of the finished model. The surface is rough and not smooth. If necessary, this can be polished, but this is additional labor
  • Impossible to print small parts with high detail

FDM 3D printers are usually used for printing large models, where the physical properties of the finished model are important, and not the surface quality.
LCD/SLA technology makes it possible to produce high-precision models from a special resin that hardens under UV radiation.

image GD 3

Pros

  • The surface of the finished product is perfectly smooth
  • Amazing detail. Even the smallest elements are printed without distortion
  • Large selection of consumables.

Cons

  • Expensive consumables. The cost of a jar of high-quality resin is nearly double the cost of plastic
  • Small work area.

Resin printers are great for making small but very detailed models. The large selection of engineering resins available allows you to print not only decorative, but also functional products that can withstand some loads.

Print Examples

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Replica model of the RC ship
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Light boat
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Warship, finished boat length 1.7m
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RU aircraft with reverse wing
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Ready-made RC aircraft, stiffening ribs are clearly visible inside

Best 3D Printers for RC Models

FDM 3D Printers

1. Creality3D CR-6 SE

Creality3D CR-6 SE
Creality3D CR-6 SE

SEE PRICE AT CREALITY | GEARBEST| AMAZON

Features

  • Printing technology: FDM/FFF
  • Working area size: 235 x 235 x 250 mm
  • Number of extruders: 1
  • Max. Extruder temperature: 260 degrees
  • Closed chamber: No
  • Heated bed: Yes
  • Plastic type: ABS, PLA, PETG, Flex, others

This is an inexpensive but reliable 3D printer for RC parts. The unit comes with nice bonuses. For example, the low filament sensor will alert you when the plastic has suddenly run out. Also, the “print resume” function allows the printer to continue working after a power outage.

This 3D printer is a good choice for beginner modelers.

2. Wanhao Duplicator 6 Plus

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Wanhao Duplicator 6 Plus

AVAILABLE AT TOP3DSHOP

Characteristics:

  • Print technology: FDM/FFF
  • Workspace size: 200*200*180mm
  • Number of extruders: 1
  • Max. extruder temperature: 260 degrees
  • Closed chamber: Optional
  • Heated bed: Yes
  • Plastic type: PLA, PLA+, PETG, Flex. Enclosed case: ABS, ABS+, Nylon, ASA, Carbon, Decorative plastics, others

This 3D printer is a good option for anyone who wants to experiment with different types of plastics. The printer can be purchased in two trim levels – with and without a closed case. For printing with engineering plastics (ABS, nylon, etc.), you should choose a package with a closed case.

3. Flash Forge Creator 3 Pro

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Flash Forge Creator 3 Pro

AVAILABLE ON FLASHFORGE | MATTERHACKERS | AMAZON

Characteristics

  • Print technology: FDM/FFF
  • Workspace size: 300 x 250 x 200 mm
  • Number of extruders: 2
  • Max. extruder temperature: up to 320 degrees
  • Closed chamber: Yes
  • Heated table: Yes
  • Plastic type: ABS, ABS+, PLA, PLA+, PETG, Flex, Nylon (Nylon), ASA, Carbon, Decorative plastics, others

The Creator 3 Pro is a great workhorse with two independent extruders. The extruders allows you to use soluble materials as support or speed up the printing of the same model parts, using the parallel function or mirror printing.

Thanks to the closed body, you can also print with engineering plastics without any problems.

4. Raise3D Pro3

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Raise3D Pro3 and Pro3 Plus

AVAILABLE AT MATTERHACKERS

Characteristics

  • Print technology: FDM/FFF
  • Working area: 300×300×300mm (printing with 1 extruder)
  • 255×300×300mm (printing with 2 extruders)
  • Number of extruders: 2
  • Max. extruder temperature: 300 degrees
  • Closed chamber: Yes
  • Heated bed: Yes
  • Plastic type: ABS, ABS+, PLA, PLA+, PETG, Flex, Nylon (Nylon), ASA, Carbon, Decorative plastics, others

Raise3D is one of the best 3D printers for professionals involved in small-scale production. This printer will be perfect for use in the workshop.

Read the full Raise3D Pro 3 review.

DLP

1. Anycubic Photon Mono 4K

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Anycubic Photon Mono

AVAILABLE ON ANYCUBIC

Specifications:

  • LCD resolution: 3840 x 2400 px (4K)
  • XY positioning accuracy: 0.051 mm
  • UV wavelength: 405 nm
  • Working area size: 6.5 x 5.2 x 3.1 in.
  • Layer thickness: 0.01 – 0.15 mm

This is a good and inexpensive printer. This is one of the best resin 3D printers for beginner makers.

2. Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K

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Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K

AVAILABLE ON PHROZEN

Specifications:

  • LCD resolution: 9.3″ 4K Mono LCD
    XY positioning accuracy: 52 microns
    UV wavelength: 405 nm
    Working area size: 200 x 125 x 220 mm
    Layer thickness: 0.01-0.3 mm

The Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K is a resin 3D printer with an impressive printable area. Its monochrome sensor and 4K resolution screen allow you to quickly print models with high accuracy.

Read the complete Phrozen Sonic Mighty 4K review.

3. Phrozen Sonic Mini 8K

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Phrozen Sonic Mini 8k

AVAILABLE ON PHROZEN

Specifications:

  • LCD resolution: 7.1″ 8K Mono LCD
  • Positioning accuracy along XY axis: 22 µm
  • UV wavelength: 405 nm
  • Working area size: 165 x 72 x 180 mm
  • Layer thickness: 0.01-0.3 mm

This LCD printer has amazing accuracy due to its high resolution display. The printer is perfect for those who care about accuracy and perfect surface quality.

Conclusion

Making and designing RC models is an exciting and creative process that requires a lot of manual labor. 3D printing can not only facilitate the creation of new models, but also help to repair and improve finished products.

For some users, 3D printers remain useless toys. But for many crafters, 3D printing is becoming a great alternative to making many expensive machines.

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