3D printed nose cones for sport and fun scale RC RGs

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Jul 29, 2014
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Have been fooling around with my new 3D printer. One thing I wanted to do was experiment with nose cones.

The choices in commercial lightweight cones for BT-80 tubing number just 2: PNC-80B and K. There are no commercial cones at all for the Centuri 2.04” OD tubing.

I went browsing around on Thingiverse and found lots of nose cones to print. There are several choices for parametric nose cone generators that allow to to do custom cones for any size and thickness tubing, with lots of shapes that can be stretched or shrunk in length. There were files for the classic Interceptor nose cone in the original and 2” size. In short, lots of resources to print any nose cone you might need, without need to design one in CAD. The .stl files from Thingiverse can also be modified in the slicing software, such as Cura, for things like final wall thickness, before the file is exported to the printer.

The attached picture is of an assortment of recently printed light weight nose cones. I am printing in PLA for now, with ABS versions coming fairly soon. These are printed with a wall thickness of .8mm which seems to be a good weight and strength compromise.

Left to right:

Interceptor cone for BT-80 tubing. I printed the first 13” of the file, scaled up from the 2” version. (The whole BT-80 version was too long for my available print volume) No shoulder yet and the weight is 1.41 oz. (The files on Thingiverse are for a simplistic Interceptor cone, without engraved lines and details and with edges and transitions that are sharp instead of rounded off a bit, but it looks great from a few feet away.)

8” cone for the Centuri 2.04” OD tubing. Weight is .88 oz with shoulder.

Generic cone for BT-80 that is longer than the B cone and shorter than the K cone. Weight is .84 oz with shoulder.

9” long conical cone for BT-50. Weight is .28 oz

Super light BT-50 cone, printed with .4mm wall thickness. Weight is .07 oz with shoulder.

Last two were not really intended for RC RGs, unless they get used for decoration on one.

Given that PLA can deform from heat at about 50 degrees C, they would need to be used as is, or painted white. I would avoid painting black windows on them, perhaps silver instead. Care would have to be taken to not leave them in the sun, or in a hot car, etc.

As mentioned, I hope to start printing in ABS soon. ABS is 16% lighter than PLA and is easier to sand and handles heat much better.

PLA material cost is about 60 cents per ounce, making these very inexpensive to experiment with. ABS is about the same.

I have printed some sample parts for a BT-101 size V-2, sort of a Maxi Brute clone. Will add those to this list soon.

I though this little experiment might be useful to others and might also inspire Frank to be even more creative! Frank is, of course, already using 3D printed nose cones on his shuttle models and has one on the BT-101 Orbital Transport glider.

I am NOT any kind of 3D printing expert, but am having fun experimenting. I predict most of what is in the picture will end up on a model soon.

Another idea would be to design the front of various fighters and blend the into the tubing. A Mig-21 would be easy to do and would look nice with the taper and the more scale-like inlet and shock cone. Very light weight canopies and dorsal fairings and various aircraft details would be fun and handy to have.

Feel free to chime in with ideas and thoughts.


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