3d printed ornithopter

Partially 3d Printed Ornithopter Test

Flight has fascinated people for so long – I’m certain that no family of life has engendered so much envy than birds.  I was inspired by a video from Festo of their new flapping, flying, bird-like machine – their beautiful ornithopter – so I had a go at making my own.

There are several tutorials out there on how to make a small, rubber band powered, wooden ornithopter – but I thought I would give 3d printing as much of the model as I could.  The result is above, and while it is very sturdy and surprisingly pretty for a cobbled together first attempt – it doesn’t fly very well at all.  It will flap furiously when held in the hand (much like a real bird I’d assume, but with less pecking) but when pushed out of the nest, it gives a feeble flap or two before stalling and then insisting on making that urgent appointment with the ground.

I suspect shoogling is the problem.  This wonderous Scottish word is a variant of ‘wobble’, and can serve as my main concern with the ‘thopter.  The axles (paperclips) are a little bendier than I’d like, and the holes which they go through, a little too generous.  As such, the poor thing seems to thrash more than flap, and I’m sure I’m losing most of my energy that way.

Still – an excellent weekend project, and maybe someone over at Thingiverse will be able to improve upon it! I think the idea of a mostly-3d printed ornithopter, has, as they say, legs.