3d-printing an aerotow hook

Lately I have been toying around with an cheap and cheerful 3d-printer, an Mini Fabrikator by Tiny Boy from Hobby King. Actually it works rather well with some limitations, like small print area etc. But it works.  Original idea was to utilize 3d-printer for small scale detail parts for kits but is has proven useful for other purposes also. I really think that in future large part of modelling will be done using cad & 3d-printing. It makes things much more exact and also from kit building perspective it is really shortening design and building cycles. I do initial design in cad anyway so the leap from drawing to 3d-design is quite short.

Then to today’s dish. I also have an old electric aerotow plane, an rather rare kit of Zlin Z-400. It flies well, but it’s aerotow hook has suffered .. something. So I decided to make an new hook.

This is somewhat rare experiment. Aerotow hooks are normally made out of aluminium or something as strong. Making something using extruded PLA is propably not sane thing, but I can always try it. Also, If it looks nice I can always get it printed at shapeways.

First I made some measurements from existing plane. This is quite old plane and hook is really bad looking.

Then I proceeded to make an prototype of new and improved design. You might notice extreme overkill in material strengths, but to get this strong enough it must be done this way. I did design in Fusion 360 which is rather easy to use after some head banging. Then proceeded to print prototype and try it out.

Design looked ok, but it was quite clumsy. I made several refinements and currently 3d-printer is churning next version out. You can see design for that below. This is interesting.

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