I remember as a kid, my brother would always be trying to make things fly. Whether it was the casual paper airplane which he would bend in all sorts of ways in order to make it as aerodynamic as possible, or his remote control airplane that he ultimately crashed and cost our parents several hundred dollars, he was fascinated with flying objects.
Now, about twenty years later, I finally have a chance to 3D print him a little bit of a Christmas gift, something that will surely pique his interest. That gift will be a 3D printed propeller toy that Italian industrial design student Flavio Gioia created. Printable on virtually any 3D printer, it is definitely something that caught my attention.
“My interest in 3D printing started last year during the erasmus programme I did in Lisbon (Portugal),” Gioia tells 3DPrint.com. “I was additionally assigned to work in the 3D Lab of my host University as an internship. They had two 3D printers and my job there was to prepare a tutorial for every student of that University in order to let them know how to print objects well. The idea was born in that lab, I had really great co-workers and teachers who challenged me in printing something that could actually fly, since one of them was into RC helicopters.”
The 3D printed Propeller Toy is entirely 3D printable with the exception of a single M4 screw which is required. It prints in just 4 pieces, and can fit on most printer beds. Because the pieces are very small, it shouldn’t take more than an hour or so to print.
“The hardest part to design was the propeller, since the profile of the wings is really sensible,” explained Gioia. “So I had to print 2 or 3 of them until I finally found the optimal shape. After that we went outside to test it properly and we were astonished when we saw that little propeller reach the 4th floor of the building! The one you see on thingiverse is made with my Prusa i3.”
As for the design, Gioia tells us that it is almost perfected, but it still needs a few little improvements, including fixing the axis. He is currently hoping that someone on thingiverse can help improve upon the design.
When my brother opens his Christmas gift this holiday season, he will probably remember playing with similar toys back in the 1990’s and perhaps he will have some idea for making this thing fly even further.
What do you think about this propeller toy? Do you have any suggestions for Gioia? Discuss in the 3D Printed Propeller Toy forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of the propeller toy in action below.