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Bukobot Fly - 1 piece printable glider that flies!

by deezmaker, published

Bukobot Fly - 1 piece printable glider that flies! by deezmaker Apr 30, 2012

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The Bukobot Fly was originally made to test out some features of my Bukobot 3D printer prototype and experiment with thin layers. Then I got curious to see if I can actually make it fly..and I did!

First 3D printable hand glider?

Not sure if it's the first flying 3D printable mini airplane, but I couldn't find one anywhere that was small enough to fit on 8x8 platform and didn't require motors.

The Bukobot Fly has a 9" wingspan and 0.4mm thick wings.


This might be a tough print to do. It took me a few tries to get a decent first layer for the wings because the crappy PLA I had was very inconsistant in thickness... But if your platform is level and your material is good, it should work. Layer height should be set to about 0.1mm with a very flat platform and I recommend using PLA for the stiffness. Also, platform needs to be at least 7x7 inches to print at 100% size, not sure if it'll work any smaller, but should work bigger possibly.

Printed on a Bukobot 3D printer http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:21746

UPDATE!!! I got video of it flying!!!



I was able to make this actually glide pretty good, but I was alone at the park and couldn't film it (needed two hands to launch it). As soon as I get a helper, I'll try to make a video of it in flight.

UPDATE!!! I got video of it flying!!! youtube.com/watch?v=xQsI0d0aw8Y

I only used Slic3r, so here are the settings:

Slicing recommendations

First Layer Height= 3 (ratio, so first layer is 0.3mm)

Layer Height = 0.1mm

Perimeters (Shells) = 2

Fill = about 20% (Might need to experiment with this to get good balance)

Print Speed = about 40mm (Try to print it at a safe speed, if weird things happen you might need to slow down the feed rate)

You need to place the Bukobot Fly on your printer platform at 45 deg for it to fit an 8x8 platform, make sure you match the Fill angle to the direction of the body so the pattern follow the path of flight (more aerodynamic).

After printing:

1 - Warp the wings up a little. Take a look at the photos for reference. Grab 2 pencils (or pens) and place them under the wings about the middle, without touching the tail. Then, use a hair dryer and gently heat up the wings while pushing the fuselage down. Make sure you are as straight as possible or it will flight weird.

2 - Add front weight & hook. Find a small screw with nuts to fit on the tip to act as weight and launching hook.

3 - Gentle adjust rear flap to about 30 deg or so to start with

4 - Add or take away weight until it balances about the middle of the wing.

5 - Prepare a stick with a rubberband to use as the launcher (use the screw as the hook)

Making it fly

If you know about airplanes, you can figure this out. Basically, if the plane nose dives quickly, reduce the nose weight, if it falls backwards (or flops around), add more weight to the nose. You will also need to adjust the rear flap slightly to get it perfect.

The OpenScad file has some variables if you want to change some simple things.

Good luck! If anyone makes a video of it flying, please let me know!

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If you print this in 1:2 scale it flies without any additions.
Awesome office toy ;) Thank you!

Printed successfully on my Creality CR-8 printer, turned 45 degree to fit the build platform, used 3DLAC on the fibre class build sheet then placed it in the freezer for 20 minutes to remove the plane without any difficulty - it lifts straight off. I always us 3DLAC. it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Printed @ 60% on a prinrbot metal. Still flies. Awesome!

do not print with raft it is so thin that it will break just print without otherwise great!!!

What a cute "lil bugger" ! Thanks

Thanks, I'll give that a try.

@cosber: That is a hidden "Cooling" feature of Cura I believe. Not sure how to turn that off, but if you use MatterControl, that option is there.

When it's printing the rudder, about 1/2 way up, the print head raises slightly, pauses for about 4 seconds and continues to the next layer. It repeats this the rest of the print. When it pauses, the filament drips down and puts a blob on the side of the rudder. I am able to sand it off, but I'm wondering why it would do this. It probably adds 15 minutes to the length of the print. By the way, it flies great!

If the printer spend too less time printing one layer, after layers and layers the model may get overheated and result in bad condition. The print head raises up after finishing each layer in order to let the model cool down .You may find relevant options in your slicing software. When it comes to the filament dropping , emmm ,unavoidable failure for such machine.

In Cura: Go to Expert-Settings and there is a tick in "Cooling"

I've made one on my replicator dual clone, awesome!

i use a rubber band to launch it, very fun. had to print it smaller to fit it on my plattform.

Its now 19.5cm of wingspan. going to motorize it :D

I will post a picture if i made a bigger motorized version!

Did'nt need the screw as a weigt, it flew even without!

It would be cool to modify to use a pager motor, a small propeller, and a coin cell to make it a powered craft.

Can the extruders operate with hemp pulp or paper/papyrus material? Also, the craft could be made larger if the wings/body/tail pieces were made slide together, like the balsa models as in the days of YOR!!!

It is not true that it can only fly as a brick. Theory is theory, we may talk alot, but in practice everybody can achieve my result with a little tweaking - much better spent time. The 6 gram weight, one thin 0.2 mm layer of plastic. True. It does not only fly as a brick, but rather as ordinary paper-folded flyer. Now i'm thinking on real 0.1 mm thin wing, I probably can reach 4-gram limit.


I think if you put the screw down, or a curved peace of metal, you can shoot it with a rubber band really high

Yes, you are right. If you print the design you'll notice the hole is at a slight angle so you wouldn't need to bend anything.

Great! I made one at 50% size on my ToM -- the tail fin came out wonky (too much time in cool, so the extruder was oozing) so I had to break it at the half-way mark -- but it was otherwise fine. -- a bit tricky to fly right, but when it does, it flies nice!

Weird, this has been #1 most popular for a week or so now and it might be the first 3D printable airplane ever and it hasn't been featured yet...

The base of the vertical stabilizer could be tapered for a bit more strength. I Find it is the first to go and always at the same spot. Also, a rubber-band launch turns this glider into a bullet!

A small wood screw to the bottom of the nose made this fly like a jet!!! Launch from said wood screw. Printed on a TOM with jetty firmware 100mm/s :D

Look at hang gliders as an example.

They have thin wings and do slow speed flight.

A wing to fly properly, needs to have a curve going up, similar to a sail on a sailboat.

That means a curve going up on the top surface. You could do this with one layer, like on a sail on a sailboat.

This basically created a vaccuum on the top su
rface. What a plane actually does with this type of configuration is create less pressure on the top surface, thus causes the wing to want to go up. This is why sailboats can go faster than the wind.

Nice! I printed some helicopter blades and you've printed a whole flying craft! This just keeps getting better and better. :)

Definitely going to be making one of these.

Single print + challenging + flies = AWESOME! Nice job!

I suppose the next step would be to design something that flies without needing the rubber band.

About the aerodynamic thing: forget about it. at this size/scale everything flies, but everything flies like a brick. You did not use any wing profile, so it may be bad if you try to decrease the surface roughness. If your wing loading is not too high already, you might want to try a KF wing. In practice that would mean that you'd double the thickness of the first half of the wing, have a sharp ridge and continue with the wing with as little thickness as possible. That could give you a little more stiffness in the wing, but I'm not sure you need it. (wings that bend upward also give it dihedral, which helps a lot with stability)

For ultra-light stuff: print on a layer of rice paper or cling-wrap foil. Then you only need to print the spars and some ribs, giving more time to tinker with your design.
If you want to go for all-printed, then measure the weight you needed to put up front, measure the weight of your stalk as it
is now and guestimate a new stalk length.

I didn't realize butterflies fly (glide) like a brick ;).

I like your idea of using something like rice paper for the wings. I do think all-printed is more impressive though. I suppose it's just a matter of making the wing as thin as possible, with an optimal shape. Maybe a higher aspect ratio?

Another alternative might be to (greatly?) increase the
scale and print single shell wings in parts.

Thanks Jelle for the tips! the KF Wings is an interesting idea, but I think it would add too much more weight for the benefit. But, if you notice, I actually have a thick leading edge with a little bit of a curved profile. With the wings also swept back, I think it gives a little lift. Since I use a rubber band to shoot it in the sky, I think the little details help at faster speeds.