Interesting 3D Printed Drone Projects

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Merging 3D printing and drone is an excellent coalition for tech enthusiasts. True to the fact, there are quite a few major projects and RC groups working on 3D printing drone. To accommodate for the complicated shapes and electronic circuits and motors, 3D printing rightly serves as a powerful tool. The drone applications range from rescue operations to ambitious interconnectedness. The 3D printing technologies used also vary from extrusion-based to powder-bed fusion methods. Here we discuss five captivating 3D printed drone projects. Needless to say there are a number of other significant 3D printed drones flying around the world.

Future of package delivery – CargoCopter

CargoCopter is an interesting project aimed at revolutionizing aerial transportation system. It transports parcels up to 5 kg at 100+ kmph. The 3D printed drone is also capable of travelling up to a distance of 60 km. It makes a transition from hover to forward flight by combining multicopter wings. This enables the drone to resemble an airplane’s fast and efficient motion. Yet it is capable of vertically landing and taking off at a precision of less than 50 cm.

Autonomous car+drone combo – Fly-Mode

Local Motors is already well known for Strati, its 3D printed car. It teamed up with Mouser Electronics & Grant Imahara and developed Fly-Mode, an autonomous car with a quad-rotor drone that lands on the car’s rear deck. The car occupants can control the drone with a wireless joystick and center console’s navigation screen. The 3D printed drone is capable of scouting the landscape and pre-viewing the traffic ahead; but it can do more. Its sensor feedback is sent to a computer in the vehicle. The pneumatic levelers under occupants’ seats receive this data, and offer them a feel of flying with the drone. Fly-Mode’s inflatable screen also shows HD panoramic images from the drone, leading to a perfect immersion into flight simulation.

3D printed drone
Fly-Mode (Image: RT)

Disaster relief drone – X VEIN

Team ROK from Japan developed a disaster relief drone after the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in March 2011. Yuki Ogasawara and Ryo Kumeda made their drone X VEIN for disaster conditions and search and rescue missions. It had an X-shaped body and lattice structure design resembling veined dragonfly wings. They also designed it with extensive safety features and better flight times. They intend to publish X VEIN as an open source platform for easy manufacturing and customization by others. It could also be modified to be used beyond rescue functions.

3D printed drone
X VEIN (Image: Autodesk)

Submarine drone – Blue Robotics

Blue Robotics is a fun project-turned-into-company story. The team wanted to send a solar powered robotic boat from Los Angeles to Hawaii, and stumbled upon the harsh reality of part unavailability. They wanted a thruster than can autonomously propel the drone underwater in salt water environment. The available ones were highly expensive and affordable ones were of and affordable ones of bad quality. Hence they set out to develop their own affordable and reliable thruster and ROV. Their Kickstarter campaign gained over $100,000 from 360 backers, and won a number of awards as well.

3D printed drone
Blue Robotics underwater drone (Image: Blue Robotics)

Remote sensing with Svarmi

Svarmi is another passionate development of a hobby-turned-into-company story. Two mechanical engineers in Iceland interested in RC planes and drones started the company. With strong collaboration with partners, they develop drones for aerial and remote sensing and further data processing. Including different designs ranging from fixed wing to multirotor UAV, they cater to different applications in monitoring volcanic eruptions, vegetation, landslides etc. The technology offers huge scope in other parts of the world as well!

3D printed drone
Profile in Svarmi’s data viewer (Image: Svarmi)

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  1. Justin Flugum says

    I’m going to make a drone once I have enough money, great info here. Thanks for the article.

  2. Richard Bynum says

    I like them all! Seems like the R/C hobby + 3D printing has been the blood behind some companies starting up! I wish them all well! They’ve come up with some really cool/interesting drones. I would love the car with the drone on the back to be able to scout traffic for the best direction to go or being able to have an immersive show while flying the drone! Having an inflatable screen in the car…what could go wrong!? haha..J/K. But it would be fun to have!

  3. Tom Baxter says

    The search and rescue possibilities for drones is awesome! I remember reading about Land Rover working on Project Hero for the Red Cross.
    I am seeing more and more uses for 3D printing and the RC/Drone hobbies coming together. I may really tick the wife off if I starting another hobby! But, it’s tempting. lol 🙂

  4. David Griffith Rowe says


  5. Chelle says

    Very interesting! Thanks for the ideas. If I won one of these printers, I would like to learn how to do something like this.

  6. Oscar says

    The best of 2 worlds, 3d printing and drones.

  7. Carol Oddy says

    Liked this post, easy to understand, thank you.

  8. Michael Perkins says

    My 2 fav technologies playing nicely…

  9. mperkins37 says

    Love the idea of printing drone parts

  10. mperkins37 says

    Like that all this tech is coming down in price & gaining accuracy & speed

  11. Carol Oddy says

    Enjoyed reading this article, easy to understand, thanks !!

  12. Usman Bala says


  13. Mahtab says

    How about a waterproof all-terrain tank?

  14. Vickie Kulp says

    My brother and sister in law have a drone. They brought it to my house. They are neat!

  15. abdralin says

    oh how i want 3d print a drone myself

  16. Joe says

    I have been wanting to make a drone to inspect my roof after heavy rains or wind storms. I hate climbing onto my roof, but I’m too cheap to hire someone.

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