Model airplane parts can be cut, using a laser . How to select a radio control parts cutter for your project.
This is the latest technology used in the manufacture of RC plane parts. The general layout of a laser cutting system is that of a gantry robot, with 2 or 3 axis of servo control. The bed size determines the maximum material length and width that can be accommodated and the maximum material thickness and speed of cutting are determined by the wattage.
A 40 watt laser can cut up to 1/8" ply and a 100 watt unit will easily cut 1/4" ply and 1/2 " balsa. Note that the thinner thickness parts can be laminated to produce the thicker parts.
The material is generally held on a vacuum bed and thus is easily clamped in position as the laser moves and cuts out the RC airplane parts.
Many suppliers have already laser cut parts for the popular plans, and may even have complete parts kits in stock.
If the supplier has never produced parts from the plan you require then a specific procedure must be followed. Your plans must be sent to the supplier so they can be scanned. Note that laser cutting is very accurate( +/-.001")-but if your plans are not, then the parts produced cannot be!
All the model airplane parts you require must be shown full size and complete.( Not drawn on top of each other, with dotted lines and some parts unclear or not isolated from other parts) It may be necessary for you to trace some parts in black, on a white background paper. Do not expect the supplier to fix poor plans, or to redesign bad layouts.
Assuming the scan has gone OK, the next step is the most time consuming and therefore an expensive step in the process. The scanned image, of RC plane parts, is in a raster image format and must be converted to a vector image, usually a DXF file. At the present time this has to be done manually, using a program like Autocad and effectively trace over every part. At the same time the parts can be nested, to ensure maximum material usage.
Note that your plan is not cut and can be returned to you, with the parts.
This procedure obviously takes time and costs, over and above the actual laser cutting and material costs.
It is possible to laser engrave the part number, on each part. Once again this costs more, both in preparation and in laser time.
The suppliers listed below have excellent reputations. Contact them for your laser cutting requirements.
Manzano has a large range of kits available, as well as offering custom laser cutting. They appear to specialize in electric power, but do have a few glow powered designs available. Click on the logo or here to visit their site.
LasercutUSA specializes in scale airplanes as well as offering custom work. The 100 watt laser they use will certainly cut any size material I shall ever use for model airplane parts! Click on the photo or the name above to visit their website.
Laser Lizard appears to love the WW2 warbirds. Visit them by clicking on the logo above or here.
Bob has been selling plans for many years. He now offers a laser cutting service for many of the plans he sells, and can custom cut model airplane parts. Contact him for full information. Bob Holman Plans.
Please note that we are not associated with the above companies, in any way and offer links to their site as a service to YOU, our customers. Make your own decision as to which supplier to use. Please let us know your experiences, by contributing below.