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Free 3D Printable of the Week: Don Foley's 3D printed SR-72 Aircraft

Free 3D Printable of the Week:

Don Foley's 3D printed SR-72 Aircraft

SR-72 Aircraft / June 2015 cover of Popular Science


Don's latest project for one of his favorite clients, Popular Science, is the cover and inside double page spread illustrations of the high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft the SR-72. The SR-72 will be the replacement for the famed SR-71 Blackbird.

And of course Don couldn't pass up the opportunity to create a 3D printable version of the aircraft. Don modeled the plane in Lightwave 3D. The angle of the wings and the shape of the body made it easy to design a print that could be divided into 3 sections for easy assembly. Two small interior 'sleeves' align and attach the three sections.

Don grew up in the shadow of the space program in Cocoa Beach. His first press pass was for the second launch of the Space Shuttle.. Since then he's covered the aerospace industry for every major publication, including National Geographic, The New York Times, Popular Science, Discover Magazine and Scientific American. Don continues to work with most of these publications, but has also melded his love for 3D printing into the mix.

On this project he took his knowledge of the SR-72 and prepared a 3D printable model based off his illustration.

Don has been bringing many of his projects into the 3D print world over the past year, and a good percentage of them have been in the aerospace industry (the Curiosity Rover, the Hubble Space Telescope, the NASA/MIT Double Bubble for example).


                                                                                                                    Modeled in Lightwave


                                                                                                      Wireframe of the SR-72 in Lightwave 3D

                                                                                                                     Print Setup in Lightwave


                                                                                                                  Toolpath shown in Simplify3D

                                                                                                       SR-72 print on the Wanhao Duplicator 4

Don can't say enough about the Duplicator 4 series. Even though he owns 2 of the D4S series printers, his Duplicator 4 printed the SR-72 without flaw, twice. Don is a big fan of WanhaoUSA, great customer service.

With the printer control done, Don exported the file as an .x3g file to run his Wanhao Duplicator 4S printer (one of the 5 Duplicator printers he runs in his studio).


                                                                                                                          The final print

Don printed the SR-72 in pieces so the size airplane wouldn't be limited by the print volume, it also allowed the craft to print it without supports. The print was done in PLA (Makergeeks Silver) at 205° at 2500 mm/min..


                                                                                                                       All prints aren't perfect

This print was done in 3 parts. Even printing in PLA, there was some curling on the plate. Do deal with this, Don rubbed in some vinyl spackling, available at any hardware store and sanded it down with 120 grit sandpaper.


                                                                                                                    The final print

You can download Don's SR-72 model for free for a week. Click HERE to go to Don's store.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications