What do you need to have and know to start printing 3DPW airplanes?

-3DPW files

-3D printer


-RC equipment

-Basic tools

-At least overview of our information sources: this article, video guides, manual, forum


As passionates of 3d print, we realized that issues are the main factor which stops people to continuing this hobby.It isn’t good when you compare it to potential profits when you overcame it.To make it less probable that you will disappear from 3D printing world we support you on way from PLA spool to take-off by followings: video guides to every single airplane as well as manuals in PDFs, 3DPW forum, e-mail contact to us, an article that you are currently reading and many extras like Facebook post etc.Remember to do many experiments when results don’t satisfy you, note every single modification watch how it affect g-codes and prints.Compare specific prints together and choose the best ones, then apply settings to all model.

3D files:

Our files work with Simplify3D software, we consider alternatives like Cure but right now effects are not good enough.Don’t worry if you don’t have S3D.You get file package together with g-codes prepared by us using Simplify3D and that g-codes works for many printers.We recommend to get S3D then you will be able to change settings and solve problems if it will occur.All parts from the set can be printed on machines with at least 195mm/195mm/165mm volume(of course your printer can be bigger).You can download test files from Thingiverse.

There is list of common issues and important things

1.)Look how you can change digital files to real printed parts:

WAY 1.) G-CODES.The simplest.

If everything goes ok and yo don’t have to change anything you have tested one print and results satisfy.Then stay with it.It’s the only way if you don’t have Simplify 3D.Take g-codes from downloaded file set, put it on SD card and print.G-codes were prepared to machines with minimum dimensions so it will fit them and bigger ones


It’s the best option if you have Prusa i3 original mk2 printer.Also good with Prusa i3 or similar printer.As factory files are prepared for Prusa i3 original mk2 the build volume exceeds 195mm/195mm/165mm.If you have another printer and parts don’t print well because of positioning then you can click on processes, next g-codes.There change printer volume to mentioned minimum.S3D will shrink volume.After that, in most cases, you will have to click center and arrange parts(you can find it after clicking edit in the upper S3D menu).Until your printer isn’t smaller than minimum volume all parts will fit.Assuming you have factory files and you need to click prepare to print button, to make g-codes next put it on SD card and print.


You have an untypical printer, other ways don’t work, you want to increase knowledge.If the answer for any of these is yes try it.In fact, everyone who wants to gain confidence with airplanes printing should do this.You create your processes, set parts and create factory files by your own.Especially for these who want to go this way we prepared an extra section that describes it.Look at SIMPLIFY 3D PROCESSES SETTINGS in file set which you have downloaded.

2.)Prints are weak, or there are countless tiny horizontal holes, the profile of wing is a bit “wavy” and has kind of “hills” between reinforcements.On the other hand are clearly too heavy.The cause of this 2 opposites is often based in extrusion:

Solve: Extrusion multilayer.Depending on the printer and its condition, the range of this factor for our airplanes is from 1.0 to 1.2 figure.To find the good result of strength/weight you need to choose sth among this 2 extremes, normally when the printer is ok multiplayer should be set from 1.02-1.05.There some exception from this rule in our files, like flexible gear doors.

In brief

-week, wavy print: more plastic-higher multiplayer

-heavy print holes for rods in wings are clogged: less plastic-lower multiplayer

3.)Prints wrap, separate from bed especially on leading/trailing edge of wing:

Solve: Improve adhesion to bed.Do you have heated bed?If not we recommend installing it in your printer.What is your bed condition?Maybe it needs replacing adhesive surface like kapton tape or PEI, if it’s just a glass put hairspray on it.You tried everything and nothing improves?Select files with an extra skirt from your downloaded content or add it by yourself in S3D settings.

4.)You notice bad stringing or holes near the place where printer ends printing layer:

solve: check parts like a teflon tube, nozzle(maybe it’s clogged) and other parts of the extruder.As well as in point 1 the condition of printer highly matters here.Does your filament has the same diameter at all its length and is clean? If previous thinks are ok you need to change some settings in retraction.Look at following settings.

-reduce print speed for 30% or more and retraction speed below 20 mm/s(don’t forget to change the speed of 1st layer if you reduce print speed.If 1st layer is to slow it’s not good for adhesion).

-extra retract distance: start tests with 0,12 value and typical perfect value is between 0.04 and 0.18.Changing this factor you ste amont of additional plastic after retraction.

-retraction distance: helps with stringing.Start tests with 0.8mm(direct extruder) ,5mm(bowden extruder) and gradually add more.

-start points: (choose this option)=>optimize start points for fastest printing speed.

-sometimes increasing extrusion multiplayer can slightly improve results but our airplane will be noticeably heavier and it’s not a long-term solution.

-you can replace your extruder, especially if you have weak unreliable one.It’s a radical step so ensure if you checked everything in software and printer.


5.)The temperature.What should it be?What with the cooling fan?:


-HoteEnd: 200-to highest your print can handle, we use 235

-Heated bed: 50-70, we use 55

-Cooling fan: off


Features of the printer for 3DPW airplanes:

  • Printer volume

To print our airplanes you need printer with at least 195/195/165 dimensions

  • Stiffness and accuracy

Printer frame should be stiff and straight, all parts should me assembled with high accuracy, you can improve stiffness by mods like extra supports.When there enormous waves on parts that occur just after printing corner or sharp angle of the model(trailing & leading edge is most affected) then back to mentioned things or you will have to reduce speed.

  • Hotend&extruder

It should be in good condition if you don’t want change settings in S3D.Use 0.4mm nozzle, other might not work or need changes in settings(extrusion multiplier etc…).Direct drive extruder is better than bowden for our purposes.

When choosing printer avoid the cheapest clones or other unknown stuff just check who is the producer of crucial components like HotEnd…

Expensive ones which are literally like a brick.Kick, drop and dimensions are still ok…but until your printer is treated normally you don’t need them.

We use Prusa original printers.



Buy good PLA and keep it away from water and dust.PETG might also work and is less affected by temperature.


8.)Some minor, less common issues:

-Parts melt especially thin or peaked or on overhangs-print, more parts at one time, slow down and reduce the temperature.When you want to print some spare parts remember about it.