Drones and 3D printers go hand-in-hand these days. Having access to a 3D printer is important if you want to replace parts or even create new and improved parts for your drones. Tiny Whoop frames, legs extensions, and camera mounts are just some of the parts we have designed here at Half Chrome. You can access all of our free CAD files here.
So let’s say you have downloaded a CAD file and now you want to print it. We have a list of creative ideas for where you can find a 3D printer. Some of our strategies involve begging and borrowing, while some require a little cash. The good news is that even if you can’t get parts for free, you can typically have 3D printed parts delivered to your door for about $10-20. Read on to learn all of your options.
Get your prints for free
1. Check your local library
Many library systems these days have 3D printers. See if your system has one or if a nearby affiliated branch does. If they don’t have one, tell them to start putting your tax dollars to work and buy a printer already!
2. A friend or colleague
With more people getting printers, chances are you may know someone who has a printer. Maybe buy them some filament (raw material) in exchange for a favor. Beer is also an effective currency for many makers. If you don’t know someone who owns a printer, maybe you know someone that is a member of a makerspace or hackerspace.
3. A local school
See if your local high school or community college has a printer. You will likely need to know someone on the inside to help you, but it’s worth a shot. Maybe you know a student or a teacher?
There are several services that you can use to order 3D printed parts. You will want to have a basic understanding of 3D printing before you order something. For low-cost high-strength prints, a good starting point is ABS plastic parts from an FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) printer. ABS plastic is flexible, strong, and inexpensive. FDM printers extrude plastic filament from a small nozzle like a hot glue gun. The following is a list of some of the top sites for inexpensive and fast parts delivery. Parts can be as cheap as a few dollars each – not bad for something totally custom.
Here are a few of the many services worth looking into:
Here are a couple other articles that provide an overview of printing services:
Buy a Machine
In the last couple years, the market has been flooded with countless 3D printers. Almost all of them are FDM printers since they are the least expensive and appropriate for home use. Here are some features you should look for in an FDM printer:
- A print volume of 8 x 8 x 8 inches (20 x 20 x 20 cm) is a good target. You will be limited if your printer is any smaller.
- A heated bed will dramatically improve print quality as well as reduce warpage and it can allow for a broader array of filament materials.
- Automatic bed leveling is a big time saver and will make that first layer more likely to stick to the bed. Many experienced makers consider this a must-have feature.
- Printer resolution controls how fine the features are that you can produce. A resolution of 0.2 mm (0.008 inches) is standard and 0.1 mm (0.004 inches) is common. Some printers, like the Prusa3D, have 0.05 mm (0.002 inches) capability.
- A closed printer with an air filter can help keep down the fumes generated when printing stinky materials like ABS.
So what printer fits the bill? Here are some to consider:
- The Prusa i3 is so popular that it is frequently not available. It is the top-rated printer by many magazines and it is very well rated on Amazon. It will set you back about $700.
- Don’t have that kind of cash? Monoprice has created the least expensive printer on Amazon and it gets pretty good reviews. Check out the latest price here.
- Maybe you want a closed volume to cut down on smell or you just don’t want to wait for the Prusa? The DaVinci 1.0 Pro from XYZprinting is a good low-cost option at about $600. Check the latest price here.
Join a Makerspace / Hackerspace
Makerspaces operate on a subscription basis and typically $40 to $100 a month gets you full access to all of their equipment. That’s a hefty sum if all you need is the occasional 3D print, but it is something to consider if you have a lot of use for the printer or other equipment at the makerspace.
There are lots of ways to get your hands on some 3D printed drone parts. Buying parts is not a bad deal, especially if you find a source you can trust. If you want to buy a printer, make sure you do your research first. No matter what, enjoy your newly customized drone!
If you have questions about any of our files, or if you want to recommend a new part for development, just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Still looking for a Drone?
No worries, Half Chrome Drones has you covered. Maybe you want an aerial photography drone, or maybe you want a fun toy. Want FPV? We’ve developed an advanced system to match you to the right drone. We call it our Half Chrome Drone Cipher™, go check it out. We also are constantly updating our Best Drones Now page to help you stay current.
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