3D Printable DIY Drones

Building a printable drone may sound like a dream for most makers and hackers. This is a chance to pursue your idea and build custom flying robots.

With plastic materials and a 3D printer, you can build awesome drones at home in a garage or your room.

There is also a software side that you should not forget and includes a digital model of the object. With such variety of free software for modelling things, you can experiment almost any idea and bring the drones to the masses.

In this article, I put together three of the best DIY drones with a simple design. All of these projects require simple tools, few resources and effort. And, of course, you can build at home these flying robots.

Every project starts with an idea or a source of inspiration. These can be seen in this article where different drones are designed for a large area of use.

When we talk about a printable drone, we talk about a printable platform. Some components and parts such as sensors, motors, batteries cannot be printed. Even so, the total costs of the project drop, and with few modifications, we can use these robots in real-life applications.

Talented designers and researchers create wonderful open-source projects available with files and all information needed to build these from scratch. The widespread use of this method of building things has a series of advantages. We can include here the possibility to build cheap and customizable drones.

3D-printed drones capable of self-assembly

Modular 3D printable drones designed to fly in a modular structure.
A research team from the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control designs a fleet of printable drones with a modular structure. All these printable robots can fly in flocks and communicates each other. After the each drone detects the position of others, it joins the group in order to create a modular structure.

These drones can be used in many real applications like transportation system, or in research and development to study the distributed control and estimation.

The design includes hexagonal shapes that look pretty much like a beehive structure. The platform is a printed hexagon built from plastic materials and magnets located on the sides. In the middle of the hexagon is a single propeller that lifts the robot in the air.

Until each drone search to detect the presence of other drones, it flies independently and in an uncontrolled way. Once the connection is established with other modules, all the flying robots create a flight system and flies in the same direction as a single unit.

Each module is equipped with sensors to determine the position in the structure to maintain the flight. At all stages, the drones exchange information with others.

Control – the system is not completely autonomous and require remote control. The control of the platform can be done in two ways: with a joystick or using a GPS external sensor. Each module has its own propeller to drive and correct the position in the array by determining the amount of trust.

3D printable DIY kit

Using household objects and basic tools, any maker can print 3D parts to build this flying quadrotor UAV.
With additional motors and a control unit, this DIY printable kit designed by Jasper van Loenen can be transformed into a flying quadrotor UAV. The idea behind this project is to use basic tools and simple household objects to create custom DIY drones.

Printing – all parts of the flying drone can be printed using an affordable 3D printer and ABS materials. The designer makes available the printable files and offers the possibility to create custom variants of these files.

Using a 3D printer, you can print the unusual shapes to the simple clamps that attach the motors. Any maker is free to modify the structure of the robot as long the ending result is a flying machinery.

Some parts such as electronics, batteries, or motors cannot be printed. All these parts have to be purchased according to design specifications.

Control – this kit doesn’t include an autonomous flying system. But it can be controlled remotely via a gadget and Bluetooth connection.

Hex Airbot

Customizable 3D printed drone with autopilot. It is controlled remotely with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth connection.
The 3D printable technology has born cheap and customizable DIY projects. One of these projects is this printed drone called Hex Airbot. Depending on the user ideas and requirements, this drone is highly customizable with a long list of 3D printed shells from where the user can choose. All these shells are designed to be mounted directly on the circuit board and don’t require any additional soldering.
The maker also has the possibility to design and print their shell projects.

Compatible with Arduino, the kit comes with open-source hardware and software. These resources can be used in a wide range of applications.

The Hex autopilot system provides an auto-balance control in the midair. In addition, the same autopilot system can be redesigned to work on different projects like two-wheeled robot car, camera gimbals, submarines, etc.

Printing – the entire platform of the drone is printed as one piece that provides a robust body able to resist at shocks.

Control – beside the autopilot system, Hex drone is controlled from the ground using the accelerometer sensor from a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. The connection between the device and drone is via Bluetooth 4.0. The drone imitates in the air the movement of the device including the traditional operations like an elevator, throttle, aileron, etc.

A video camera can be attached to the drone for aerial photography and videography. In the accessory can be found the FPV glasses used to experience spy missions with a real-time video transfer.

Even it is a small drone, the batteries can ensure a maximum flying time of 7 minutes.

This article was last modified on 22 April 2015.

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