Aluminum 3D Printing
Shapeways has built a reputation as a leading supplier of 3D printing services to hobbyists. The New York–based company offers a
variety of 3D printing technologies, allowing it to
provide a range of different materials and surface
finishes. Now, 3D-printed aluminum is an option.
While Shapeways’s standard laser-sintered nylon
material is tough enough for most RC modeling
applications, some high-stress components need the
added strength of aluminum, and now you can have
metal parts made to order.
To obtain the best possible physical properties,
Shapeways employs selective laser melting, rather
than lower-temperature laser sintering. By fully
melting the metal, a stronger, more homogeneous
part is produced. Aluminum parts can have wall
thicknesses down to 1mm, although 1.6mm is
recommended, and surface details down to 0.5mm
are possible. Because of the strong homogeneous
nature of the material, machining processes like
drilling and tapping work really well.
As with other materials from Shapeways, you can upload your own
3D model and get a price quote in minutes, or you can choose from the
tens of thousands of existing designs in the constantly growing designer
library. Parts are typically produced in about two weeks and are shipped to
your front door.
The aluminum printing process is slower and more expensive than
sintered nylon, so aluminum parts cost about 10 times as much as
plastic. But for high-stress applications, it’s well worth the cost.—
This RC car motor mount
was designed by Alvin
Ma (at Shapeways shop
3D printing makes it practical
to produce your own out-of-production parts or to design
new parts to adapt upgrades to
an existing airframe.
Icare-Icarus TY1 Fuel Pump
If you are looking for a compact, easy-to-use fuel pump for your RC airplane, the T Y1 rechargeable is a great addition for your field box. One inch in diameter and 4. 5 inches long, the T Y1 comes with a
USB cord to charge its installed 2000mAh Li-Ion battery. There is a
micro B charge port, and battery duration is about 15 minutes. Equipped
with a small “power and fuel direction” switch, the pump is housed
in a rugged, anodized-aluminum housing with a compact fuel-line
attachment block at the top. To fill the airplane fuel tank, move the
spring-loaded switch toward the attachment block and it remains active.
For defueling, the switch is moved in the opposite direction, where it
operates as a momentary switch. The T Y1 is lightweight ( 5. 51 oz.) and is
easily carried in any field box for quick fills. For convenience, it can easily
be attached to a fuel container or bottle with a couple of tie wraps.
Priced at $59.00, the TY1 is specially designed to be used with glow
fuel, gasoline, kerosene, or any other fuel containing lubricant oil. In use, I
found that the TY1 operates smoothly and quietly, and it easily handles
my glow-powered sport fliers with 10- to 12-ounce tanks. It has a flow
rate of approximately 950cc/minute, so it can handle much larger tanks
as well.—Gerry Yarrish
Featuring quality parts and finish, the T Y1
fuel pump is a great value. You can see
(above) that the inlet and outlet fittings
come with protective covers.