3DLabPrint is a 3D modeling studio based in Brno, Czech Republic. They focus on providing affordable large-scale RC aircraft models, that are both beautiful and relatively easy to handle in the air. For prototyping and testing their creations, they currently use an arsenal of four Original Prusa i3 MK3S printers.
Mr. Stepan Dokoupil, the founder of 3DLabPrint, thinks back about their beginnings: “I am actually an architect originally and have been interested in aviation all my life. I enjoy technology and the moment I heard about 3D printers, of course, I thought that I would get one for architectonic models and so on, but when I brought home the 3D printer, I started wondering if I could print an airplane on it. That was around 2014. So, for six months, I kept working day and night to create the first prototype of a Spitfire with a span of about a meter and I got it airborne.”
Throughout the 8 years of their existence, their collection has grown into more than 50 different machines!
There is something for everyone: both military and civilian airplanes, coming from all eras of the more than 100-year long history of heavier-than-air flight. From the Great War Fokker biplanes to legendary dogfighters of the Second World War like the Corsair, Mustang, Spitfire, or Messerschmitt Bf 109, all the way to the modern jets.
It is probably worth noting that the 3DLabPrint models are not 100% exact replicas. Since the model obviously has a different size, center of gravity, landing speed, etc. than the real thing, many small adjustments had to be made here and there to improve the flight characteristics.
However, these tweaks are almost unnoticeable to any but the most trained eye of a hardcore aircraft history buff. Quite on the contrary, you will be amazed by many realistic details like machine guns, engine cylinders, etc. Therefore, even if you don’t have any actual flight ambitions, all these models can be painted and further detailed to create beautiful static maquettes as well.
The offer consists not only of models made by the 3DLabPrint themselves. There is also the 3DLab GANG section, an online marketplace featuring both whole models and various modifications constructed by third parties. If you are an aircraft 3D modeler, you can contact 3DLabPrint and arrange for your model to be offered here as well.
One of the models, the legendary Piper Cub trainer, is available for free, exclusively on Printables.com. Don’t be fooled by its cute proportions; while it’s on the smaller side compared with some other models from the 3DLabPrint selection, it still has a wingspan of more than one meter!
We also offered the Waco YMF-5 biplane as a last year’s Black Friday gift for our customers. The same model will be also featured as one of the main models used for a demonstration of various techniques in the upcoming Prusa Academy online course on 3D print postprocessing.
Apart from all the downloadable 3D models, 3DLabPrint also makes a special lightweight PLA filament of their own design, developed for RC aircraft. Some of the models are tailor-made specifically for this kind of filament, but many can be easily printed from any quality PLA, like our Prusament for example.
Probably the biggest surprise when first building a 3DLabPrint model is how quickly (relatively speaking of course ;-)) they are printed and how little amount of filament they actually consume. All the parts are paper-thin, but with the help of a clever design and some slicer tweaks, the 3DLabPrint guys managed to make the models incredibly sturdy and able to take a lot of punishment, even when printed from a notoriously brittle material such as PLA. You can see clear proof for example in this footage of a series of less-than-perfect landings. 🙂
And even if something breaks, it’s not the end of the world, unlike with an expensive, ready-made RC model. Stepan Dokoupil sums it up: “That’s the great thing about 3D printing: you don’t have to wait for the parts to arrive in a couple of days. You can simply print spare parts at home and use them when you need them.”
For Stepan and his crew, this is obviously a passion project rather than just a job, so we can probably expect many new aircraft models to come. In the meantime – over to you!
One Reply to “3DLabPrint: Conquer the sky with 3D-printed airplanes!“
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