AMS Spring 2023

Who Needs an RC Car When You Can 3D Print This RC Trike?

6K SmarTech

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trikeaniThere have been a lot of trends emerging within the 3D printing space as of late. Some of these trends include 3D printed prosthetic limbs, 3D printed jewelry, and recently 3D printed radio-controlled (RC) vehicles. In the past, we have reported on the OpenRC project which is a community of RC vehicle enthusiasts who exchange ideas, 3D files, and feedback for creating their own RC vehicles using 3D printing technology.

When most of us think of 3D printing land-based RC vehicles, a truggy, buggy, or a similar 4-wheeled vehicle probably pops into our heads. However, for one man named Phillip Houghton, it was something else that he envisioned.

Invader tc-3 - Houghton's motivation.

Invader tc-3 – Houghton’s motivation.

“My idea came from the concept of the Invader tc-3, which is a 3 wheeled high performance sports trike,” Houghton tells 3DPrint.com. “I wanted to expand my own knowledge on how the 3 wheeled design worked as far as grip and handling. The design is simple so 3d printing it seemed like a good option for prototyping because changes could easily be made to fix problems and improve handling during experimentation.”

So this is exactly what Houghton decided to do. He set out to design and 3D print his very own RC trike.

To start off, he began using AutoCAD to design his own vehicle based on the popular 110mm width RC touring car. However, plans quickly changed once he realized that 110mm seemed too small. So, instead he opted to make it 200mm wide, in order to handle better when driven.

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“It is direct drive, meaning there is no transmission. This aided in the design process and brought some speed control advantages but less torque,” Houghton explains.

Once he had his design finished, it was off to 3D printing it. He used his XYZPrinting Da Vinci 3D printer, which he has modified to make print better. Once complete, he assembled it with a 950kv, 380 size Cobra Brushless Motor, a Mystery 30A ESC, and a 2.4Ghz Team Associated RX/TX system to control it.

trike1As for its final performance, Houghton tells us that it works “OK.” While the drivability is quite nice, the suspension still needs to be worked on.

“I’m working the suspension because it is too stiff,” he explains. “The steering is quick, causing over steering but if you have a light touch it can corner well. It does not like low speed corners but does take high speed corners like a charm. There is almost no grip in the rear but I tried moving the battery back for weight transfer and that seemed to help. A wider tire in rear would most likely fix the problem completely and that is coming in future designs.”

This is why 3D printing is so great. It allows individuals to quickly create new iterations of different parts, or the entire product altogether, in a matter of hours. It should be interesting to see how the final version of Houghton’s 3D printed trike comes out. Then again, is anything ever finalized within the 3D printing world?

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Currently Houghton balances his 3D printing time with two other priorities: First and foremost, his 3-year-old daughter who is always actively involved in his home projects, and second, his real job. Houghton is a composite fabricator and engineering consultant for the aerospace industry. He is in charge of telling other engineers whether or not particular carbon fiber parts will work on various spacecraft.

What do you think about Houghton’s 3D printed creation? What would you have done differently? Discuss in the 3D Printed RC Trike forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video of the trike in action as well as some more photos below.

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