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Custom Parts Manufacturer?

  1. May 28, 2013 #1
    Hello. I am a 3rd year Aerospace Engineering major and I am set out to build my own RC plane from the ground up. My biggest concern now is to find a manufacturer that will custom built the plane parts from a CAD model. Does anyone know of companies that are willing to do that? I've tried searching the internet but have yielded no results.
     
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  3. May 28, 2013 #2

    Danger

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    If you can afford a professional fabricator, you can probably also afford a RepRap machine. You buy it as a kit for a thousand bucks or so, assemble it yourself, and then 3-D print whatever you need. As long as you have a graphics program such as AutoCad or Solid Works, the software that comes with the kit will translate your designs for you.
     
  4. May 29, 2013 #3
    I think that any good local machine shop can do the job.
     
  5. May 30, 2013 #4
    I guess you have a healthy budget for this RC project?
     
  6. May 31, 2013 #5
    Not exactly haha. I'm as blind as bat atm. I'm trying to get a sense as to how to start it since I've never done something like this before. It'll be my hobby project/pseudo senior project that I'll be committing myself to for the next year or so. Basically I'm trying to apply what I've learned with practical hands on practice in making this. So I'm in the 'research' stage, so to speak.
     
  7. May 31, 2013 #6

    enigma

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    Do you live in the US?

    Try getting in touch with http://www.solidconcepts.com/ and see if they fit your budget. Be sure to call around to other rapid prototyping shops as well to get the best price.

    Custom parts, in general, are not cheap. Just a forewarning.
     
  8. May 31, 2013 #7
    Yeah I figured as much. Thank you for the link anyhow. I think I will just build it out of "everyday" materials and hope for the best. I'm not really looking to prototype the next UAV for the DoD or anything; just to mess around with electronics and test theory with real life practice. Bottom line: I just wanna have fun with this project :)
     
  9. Jun 1, 2013 #8

    enigma

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    Using a rapid prototyping shop may be cheaper than having a part machined from aluminum, depending on the complexity. Remember that you're paying for time. If it takes a half day, and a machinist makes $25/hr, you can do the math. For the rapid prototyping, you are paying for materials and opportunity cost, and a much lower amount of labor. Just be sure you let whomever you talk to know that you're a student. If they're smart, they will still work with you and give you a discount with the assumption that you will continue to go to them when you're in the industry and your company needs to pay the premium for lot traceability and flight certifications.

    Additionally, if you are willing to be flexible on materials, etc, you may get lucky with the shop having leftover material scraps that could be used or if their shop is slow and they need to pay their machinist to sit around otherwise.
     
  10. Jun 1, 2013 #9
    Try balsa wood and monokote which can be worked by you in your spare time even at home.
     
  11. Jun 2, 2013 #10
    Whoa. I did not know something like Monokote exist. That solves a problem I hadn't even thought of.

    What I'm thinking is that I'll use balsa wood in this project (my first one) to get my foot in the door as far as experience goes and when I become more "seasoned" I'll move onto the more exciting materials. I'll more than likely start a new thread in which I'll update my progress as the project progresses.

    I want to thank everyone that replied to me. The information I received were useful/helpful. I really appreciate it. Keep being awesome, PF :)
     
  12. Jun 2, 2013 #11

    etudiant

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    Just keep in mind that working with balsa wood is a real skill. If you are clumsy or sloppy, you will never get to second base. Hopefully you have had some experience with it.
    Separately, you may want to think about your priorities, is it aerodynamics, structure, control electronics or software. An RC plane from scratch needs all of the above, but it is a job best done by a team. Do you have colleagues who might want to share the project or would you be able to customize on an available unit?
     
  13. Jun 2, 2013 #12
    Yes, as a matter of fact I've used balsa wood to construct fins for a rocket assignment. Balsa is rather delicate and I've broken a few flaps here and there so I am somewhat familiar with the tolerances on it.

    As for the priority of this RC, I was thinking of focusing on control electronics/software as this project will mostly be about functionality rather than performance. Structures is the second priority as I don't plan to test how well this RC will crash; regardless it will be somewhat statically indeterminate to some degree as to have some sort structural integrity. Aerodynamics is absolutely not a priority as I haven't taken enough aerodynamics classes to fully understand how it works. However, there is a wind tunnel available to me through AIAA so I'll see how that will work out.

    As of now this is a one-man project and should the need arises I'll ask my friends (whom are also Aero majors) to help me out. This is built from scratch so design of the RC will be an original design, so there are no available units to modify, if at all.
     
  14. Jun 2, 2013 #13

    etudiant

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    As your focus is the 'control electronics/software', do you think you also need to build your own airframe?
    Perhaps you should be putting all your effort on your main focus area.
     
  15. Jun 2, 2013 #14
    I think so. I mean I need to have all the avionics to fit in the RC, right? So I'm more or less have to design it so that it'll have a hollow fuselage to store the Arduino and battery.
     
  16. Jun 2, 2013 #15

    etudiant

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    There are lots of model airplane kits available. Hollow fuselages able to hold an RC setup are the norm. Plus there is a very large RC community, with active user groups. So you can compare your design to the mainstream alternatives and maybe do it better.
    Good luck!
     
  17. Jun 2, 2013 #16
    Can you direct me to such communities? Thanks!
     
  18. Jun 3, 2013 #17

    etudiant

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    Just google RC aircraft plans or RC aircraft community and go from there.
    There are also newsstand magazines for this hobby ( R/C Model World and Fly R/C among others)which will be rich in various aircraft and meet discussions.
    Plus there is a set of world wide competitions for RC aircraft and even an Academy of Model Aeronautics.
     
  19. Jun 3, 2013 #18
    Wow....I never realized the gravity of the hobby. People are serious about this stuff.
     
  20. Jun 3, 2013 #19
    There's also a competition held every 2 years in Europe, among universities. Google "Air Cargo Challenge". There are some really interesting designs. Maybe you could contact a university team and ask for their report of an older aircraft.
     
  21. Jun 3, 2013 #20

    enigma

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    Thinking back, my class had a team for "Design-Build-Fly" which was probably comparable to that competition. I wasn't a part of it, so I can't offer much insight to it, but it's worth looking up.

    May even be able to finagle some college credits and funding from the university for a team.
     
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