Why We 3D Printed Copters – Flexbot

Why We 3D Printed Copters – Flexbot

Today we have a great guest post from the team over at Flexbot.cc, who have some great info about their experience with 3D printed copters. Enjoy!   Hi Guys,  Alyssa here from Flexbot! We’re really excited to share a little about what we’ve been working on at FlexBot, and how we’re using 3D printing to make it all possible! For a quick backstory about what we do, check out our Kickstarter video from October 2013, when we successfully raised $563,721 to fund our awesome little drone.

FlexBot is the world’s first personalized smartphone controlled nanocopter. When we say “personalized”, we mean you can fully customise your FlexBot. Not only can you can choose the colour of your copter, you can choose from pre-existing 3D printable frames and cap designs, or even create some yourself! On top of that, you can rewrite the flight control code of our open-sourced, Arduino based drone. To us, the ability to customize these copters was really important. We want everyone to be able to have a drone that perfectly suits them, and to accomplish that, 3D printing has been a great solution! 3D printing allows anyone to dream up an idea, and then make that idea a reality in a much shorter time, and much easier than any other method. For the drones, it’s been coming up with our own body variations, but even more fun watching what the community has designed and built themselves. flexbot 3d printed copter drone quadcopter hexcopter While the design aspect of 3D printing may have a bit of a learning curve, as we found out, 3D printing makes it easy to quickly prototype, test and tweak ideas. After a little practice, you’ll have the hang of it and will have the power to create almost anything you can imagine. To help get you started, here are a few simple tips we can share after our experience learning how to design for the copter with 3D printing:

  1. First and foremost, keep the body design light. There are limited motors in both the quadcopter and hexacopter, which mean the lifting force is also limited. A assembled FlexBot quadcopter (with motors and battery) is 40g and the hexacopter is nearly 46g. To make sure your FlexBot hexacopter can carry a camera, the frame should be about 10g.
  2. Second, to make it easy to print the design successfully, make sure the bottom side is perfectly flat. This makes it easier for your printer to be successful, and provides a solid base for the frame.
  3. Third, avoiding holes and dangling parts. Those parts will be difficult to 3D print on a home printer. The dangling parts need supports, meaning you have to do more design work and you’ll use more material, costing you more money.
  4. Last but not least, try not to make the parts too thin. I know you want to make it nice and light, but parts that are thinner than 1mm generally don’t print successfully.

We put three words on website that are important to us; “design, make and share”. People love to share, and so do we. As a result, you can find all of our source code on github, and the files for a couple of our 3D printable frames right here on Pinshape. We can’t wait to see all the variations our enthusiastic user community comes up with, and if you’d like to join them, check out our website and order your very own drone today!


Pinshape is a 3D printing community and marketplace where makers from all over the world can find and share their next great 3D print and help each other get the best results from their 3D printers.