The exact airfoil shape of a wing has a massive effect on the performance and efficiency of an aircraft and will be selected based on the intended flight envelope. If you’re moving beyond foam board wings, 3D printing is an excellent way to create an accurate airfoil, and [Tom Stanton] provides us with an excellent guide to modeling wing sections for easy printing.
[Tom] used the process demonstrated in the video after the break to create the wing for his latest VTOL RC aircraft. It was printed with lightweight PLA, which can ooze badly when it stops extruding. To get around this, he designed the wings and their internal ribs to be printed in one continuously extruded line.
He wanted a wing that would allow a smooth transition from hover to forward flight, and used the Airfoil Tools website to find and download the appropriate airfoil profile. After importing the profile into Fusion 360, he created internal ribs in a diagonal grid pattern, with lightening holes running along the length of the wing. A cylinder runs along the core of the wing to fit a carbon fiber wing spar. The ribs are first treated as a separate body in CAD and split into four quadrants. When these quadrants combine with the outer shell, it allows the slicer to treat the entire print as a continuous external perimeter line using “vase mode“.
These steps might seem simple, but it took about 3 weeks of experimentation to find a process that works. It’s primarily intended for straight wings with a continuous profile, but it should be adaptable to tapered/swept wings too. A well-designed airframe is essential when pushing aircraft to the edge of efficiency, like solar-powered plane to fly overnight.