Design of the Week: SR-72 Aircraft

By on June 14th, 2015 in Design

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This week’s selection is artist Don Foley’s smooth SR-72 model. 

Foley has created some incredibly detailed 3D models made available to the public previously, but this model of the proposed SR-72 aircraft is eminently printable by almost anyone. 

But wait, what is an SR-72? Most of us may have heard of the famous and speedy SR-71 “Blackbird” reconnaissance aircraft made in the 1960’s by the equally famous Lockheed Skunk Works. It turns out the SR-71 retired in 1999 and now it’s to be replaced with a new aircraft, unsurprisingly numbered as the SR-72. The SR-72 supposedly will be able to hit speeds of up to Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound, or over 7,500km/h (4,500mph)! 

To hit such speeds, the proposed geometry of the SR-72 is very smooth, which also turns up in Foley’s wonderful 3D model.

As a side-effect of his work for a Popular Science cover image, Foley modeled the SR-72 shape in Lightwave, his preferred 3D modeling environment. The model was sectioned into three major parts to enable easy 3D printing, with each section joined to the next via a small interior sleeve component as shown here. 

The model should be easily printable on most personal 3D printers, although it is of reasonable size. Foley’s example was printed in PLA, which should resist warping on most machines. 

In spite of the aerodynamically-smooth model surface, your prints of the SR-72 will still exhibit layer lines, which may detract from the intended polished look. Foley recommends using an application of vinyl sparkling and 120 grit sandpaper to polish the surface before painting. Unlike many 3D prints, this model should be very easy to sand by hand due to its relatively simple shape. 

Foley has made the SR-72 3D model available free from his online store for a few days. You’d best head there right now if you want to get one for free. While you’re there, you might want to check out the rest of his portfolio of amazing printable 3D models. 

[UPDATE: Don Foley has extended the length of this model’s free availability due to our story! Get it while you can!]

Via Don Foley

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!