3D Printing

3D Printing Because You Can: Using a 3D Printing Pen to Make a Working Quadcopter Propeller

You wouldn’t think that a working propeller would be something that could be made with a 3D printing pen, but thankfully maker and aerial photographer Matt Quest tried to do it anyway.

Quest first turned his 3D printing pen to create a working quadcopter. As you can see in the video below, he traced the body of a copter with his 3D printing pen and built the four armed body one layer at a time. Then all he needed to do was add some store purchased motors and propellers. The copter worked great, and seemed to have no difficulty taking off.

But that clearly wasn’t enough for him, so Quest decided to use his 3D AirPen to create a working propeller for one of his quadcopters. The 3D AirPen – like the 3Doodler – is a 3D printer that you hold in your hand like a pen. The pen costs about $129, which seems steep until you see how easy and effective Quest’s propeller build using it was. And please, no complaining that 3D printing with pens isn’t true 3D printing, that’s just a quibble. The pen wouldn’t exist without 3D printing technology, so as far as I’m concerned it counts.

3d printed addstructure propellerHe started by taking a traditionally created propeller and tracing it with his pen. Once he had the basic shape, he separated them and used the pen to further build up the thickness, smooth the edges and fill in the center of the 3D printed propeller. After filing down the propeller a bit, he drilled a hole in the center, balanced it, and used a Dremel tool to deburr the rougher edges.

Once he installed the new propeller, his quadcopter easily took off and flew around. There didn’t seem to be any noticeable difference between the factory manufactured propeller and his 3D pen created version. You can see the whole process and the final flight here:

There is, of course, very little reason to do something like this. Replacement propellers for most models of quadcopters won’t cost you more than $10, but it’s still pretty amazing that if you are so inclined we have the technology to literally draw whatever you want and make it real. Yes, it’s still new technology and still imperfect, but that only makes what Quest did with his 3D printing pen even more amazing.

Check out Matt Quests YouTube channel for tons of other 3D printing videos and some truly stunning videos of his aerial photography.