3D Printed Supermarine Spitfire : A Tribute
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950's. It was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft and was the only British fighter in continuous production throughout the war.
Undoubtedly one of the most important military aircraft of all time, Mk1 Spitfires entered RAF service (with 19(F) Squadron) in August 1938. Its fragile, almost dainty appearance belied a superior performance and hard-hitting firepower that made it a formidable opponent in aerial combat.
Spitfire came to epitomize the Battle in the hearts of the people of towns and cities up and down the UK. Conceivably Britain could have lost the Battle without the Spitfire. The Spitfire was the only one that could take on whatever the Luftwaffe could throw at the RAF and its modern design allowed it to be readily developed to keep up with new threats.
In recognition of the upcoming remembrance of the many men and woman that served we built this Spitfire to commemoration. The 3D Printed Spitfire was printed using the Stratasys Polyjet technology. The Spitfire model was built on a Stratasys Connex 260 3D Printer leveraging the digital materials capability.
3D printing is a great way to produce high quality physical models quickly. The speed and versatility it offers makes the process not only easier but more efficient. Using the Objet 260 Connex, a compact multi-material 3D printing system from Stratasys, we were able to produce a high resolution model, using multiple colours and materials, of a World War II era Supermarine Spitfire. This is how we did it.
The first and largest part to be printed was the main body of the airplane. This included the wings, guns, exhaust, and air intakes among other details. The two tone colour pallet of the original Spitfire was also mimicked with a light under body and a darker top. This was made possible thanks to the Connex 260’s digital material mode which combines two materials (in this case Vero White and Tango Black+ to create a scale of shades to choose from. We began with a computer model of the Spitfire. From here we modified the model to be optimized for 3D printing. This meant separating parts of the model that we wanted to be different colours or materials as well as deciding what would be built as a single piece and what would be assembled later. Once this was all organized it was time to print.
While the main body was printing there was time to prepare the smaller parts of the model such as the nose cone, propellers, landing gear, cockpit details, and canopy. The wheels of the landing gear were printed using the Tango Black+ material. This creates a rubber like texture perfect for replicating the look and feel of the tires. The canopy was printed using the Vero Clear material which produces transparent parts that mimic the clarity of glass very well. Finally the small cockpit details were printed using digital material. Because of their small size these parts took very little time to print making it easy to model new parts on the fly and add more detail as necessary.
After removing all the support material and washing the parts thoroughly it was time for final assembly. At last all the parts are brought together and the finished model is put on a stand printed in black ABS-M30 thermoplastic on a Fortus 400mc. The result is a professional looking model made in a very short time frame.
To learn more about Polyjet 3D Printing technologies and the Connex 260 visit cimetrixsolutions .com