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Modeling tips for 3D printing aircraft

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Posted · Modeling tips for 3D printing aircraft

So a couple of months ago I came across a website called 3D Lab Print (a website where you can buy 3d printing models of famous aircraft) and I decided to print my own Edge 540, the same plane used in the red bull air race and commonly used in aerobatic competitions. I fell in love with the idea of modeling and printing my own plane at some point as a hobby to learn a variety of CAD softwares and learn a little more about aircraft design than I already do. I started my journey of modeling my plane a couple of weeks ago and am finally at the point where I am starting to import STL files into Cura 3.4 for slicing, however, I've run into a couple of snags with my models that I was curious to see if anyone had any fixes for. I am using SolidWorks Student 2019 for my modeling software and I've run into three major issues while slicing my STLs. All of the screenshots included in this post give comparisons between my model (just the skin of the wing, internal structure is hidden from view) and the 3D Lab Print Edge 540 model in Cura. As you can see the differences are quite major as the Edge 540 model is slicing very cleanly and my model has a couple of issues. Here is the list of issues I am experiencing with images accompanying them attached:


1. When I play the path of the printing head for each of my layers in the cura gui, the head follows the outline of the airfoil once (as expected) but then goes back a second time and follows the airfoil path again on the same layer (effectively printing a single layer twice with no vertical movement, not expected). I have not enabled combing in Cura so I do not believe that this is the result of that setting.


2. I am seeing strange grooves in the surface of my wing as some of my layers alternate line width. As you can see below, the edge 540 wing is smooth compared to my wing which has varying layer line width.


3. I cannot get the wall line count to change in my model preview when I change the wall line count value in the Cura sidebar; however, when I change the wall line count to 2 for the 3D Lab Print Edge 540 model Cura successfully previews the wing section with 2 lines for the width of the model wall. This may be some kind of magic with the CAD software that 3D Lab Print uses (I think they use Fusion 360) and I would love it if anyone has any knowledge of how to pull of this little trick.


Any knowledge on any of these topics would be greatly appreciated. Maybe if we can use this topic as a base for modeling techniques then more people can make their airplane day dreams a reality with 3D printing!







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