7 Best RC Sports Cars of 2019

This guide looks at how to choose the best RC sports cars. Remote control vehicles are more popular today than they’ve ever been. That’s because they have incredible attention to details, powerful functions, and affordable price tags. All radio-controlled models have an educational element to them as well. They can help to develop a child’s mental, physical, and socialization skills.

Teenagers and adults get as much fun out of RC sports cars as toddlers and pre-teens. That’s why there are so many models to choose from aimed at different age groups and skill levels. The handpicked models on this page cater to all ages, needs, and user expectations.

Budget
RC Lamborghini Aventador
4.6/5.0
Scale: 1:18
Weight: 20.8 ounces
Perfect entry-level RC car, easy to control, rubber-like tires, LED lights.
Check Amazon
Best Value
best-value-rc-sports-car
RASTAR RC Ferrari 458
4.7/5.0
Scale: 1:14
Weight: 32 ounces
Ready to run (RTR), full functions, independent suspension, rubber tires, LEDs.
Check Amazon
Top Pick
top-value-rc-sports-car
RC Italia Sports Car
4.8/5.0
Scale: 1:16
Weight: 49 ounces
Eye-catching, luxurious, futuristic design, LED lights, fast, batteries included.
Check Amazon

Best RC Sports Car for What?

If you were to ask me what the best RC sports car was my answer would be, for what purpose? Or, if you asked me if such and such a model was the best RC car, I may say, compared to what? These are broad questions, and there are no single answers. It’s also why I suggest new buyers make a simple checklist of wants and needs before they read the reviews.

RC Cars Checklist Part 1

Knowing what you want—specifically—is the only way to make better buying decisions. Below are a few areas to consider. These apply whether the RC sports car is for you or as a gift for someone else:

  • Age? Most makers have a ‘recommended’ age for their products
  • Skill level or experience
  • Your maximum budget
  • Does it need to drive outdoors (multi-terrain capable)?
  • Is it for racing or just driving enjoyment

RC Cars Checklist Part 2

The second part of the list has 7 points that apply to everyone regardless of the above answers:

  1. Build and size (scale) requirements (see below)
  2. Features and functions that are important to YOU
  3. Speed potential if it’s for racing
  4. Maximum running time or battery life
  5. Battery charging times
  6. Cost of extra batteries and availability of spare parts
  7. Maximum control range

That should be enough to get you thinking. Add any personal items to the list as you see fit. Read a few reviews first if you’re unsure what features you want or need. And experienced hobbyists may want to think about motors, ESCs, and customizable potential, etc.

Understanding Model Scales

A scale model is a physical copy of the represented vehicle. RC cars are smaller than the real thing, which is what the model compares to. A common newbie mistake is to ignore the scale of a model RC car. You can see either delight or despondency in customer comments. People often complain that the vehicle was much bigger or smaller than they thought.

It’s an avoidable blunder as all RC cars makers state the model’s scale in the description. So, what does it all mean? Let’s use a 1:14 scale as an example. The first ‘1’ tells us that 1 inch of the model is equal to 14 inches (second number) on the real-world car. The higher the second number, the smaller the model is. Sellers don’t usually show their models next to human hands as it weakens the ads.

Racing RC Sports Cars

Most flashy RC sports car users want to pose rather than race. Racing models usually fit into the Desert Buggy, Drift, and Streetcar categories. Consider other features if you do want to compete, though. They include things like weight, materials, crash-resistance, and suspensions systems, etc.

About this RC Sports Car Guide

The RC sports car picks on this page are the result of personal research. Real user feedback and the opinions of industry experts helped in the final decision making. The first three sports models are Best Budget, Best Value, and the Top pick. The reviews below those are by price order starting with the least expensive first. The table here gives a snapshot of these 7 favorite models.

RC Sports Cars Comparison Table

Make and ModelScaleWeightPrice
QUN FENG RC Lamborghini Aventador Sports Car1:1820.8 ouncesCheck Price
RASTAR RC Ferrari 458 Special A Sports Car1:1432 ouncesCheck Price
SHARPER IMAGE Radio Controlled Italia Sports1:1649 ouncesCheck Price
Red Lamborghini Veneno RC Sport Racing Car1:249.9 ouncesCheck Price
Midea Techchevrolet Corvette Z06 RC Sport Car1:188 ouncesCheck Price
Force1 High-Speed Gravity Defying RC Sports CarN/A9.6 ouncesCheck Price
Super GT RC Sport Racing RC Drift Car1:1619.2 ouncesCheck Price

1. QUN FENG RC Lamborghini Aventador | Best Budget

QUN FENG RC Lamborghini AventadorView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The radio-controlled Lamborghini Aventador replica makes the Best Budget Pick. It’s a vibrant 1:18 scale model that’s ready to run (RTR) right out of the box.

  • Best feature 1: Excellent value w/ durable build
  • Best feature 2: Impressive details
  • Plus points: Perfect entry-level RC car, easy to control, rubber-like tires, LED lights
  • Minus points: Power hungry, only runs on smooth surfaces

RC Lamborghini Aventador Main Attractions

Lamborghini’s Aventador is a superb first RC car. The vibrant colors and fine details are impressive for a budget-level model. It’s also sturdy (crash-resistant) which adds to its value and appeal as a kid’s plaything. The modest controller and low-profile tires make it easy to handle up to speeds of 10 mph and a 40m range. The front and rear LED headlamps and taillights help bring this sporty car to life.

The Not So Good

The sports car needs a total of 6 AA batteries (not included) to run. That’s normal for an RC model, but this one does tend to be power-hungry. It’s wise for parents to invest in rechargeables if they don’t already have them. Another minus is the model needs smooth surfaces to run. That means it’s not going to work on carpeted floors inside or soft surfaces outdoors.

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Tech Specs
Model Scale: 1:18
Makers recommended age: 8+ years
Dimensions: 13 x 5.8 x 4.9”
Product Weight: 20.8 oz.
Max Range: 131 ft. (40 meters)
Battery: 4 x AA
Running time: Depends on batteries (not included)
Charging time: N/A
The Pros
Perfect entry-level model car
Easy to control
Excellent value
Durable, crash-resistant toy
Impressive details
Rubber-like low-profile tires
Bright front & rear LED lights
The Cons
Power hungry
Only runs on smooth surfaces

2. RASTAR Ferrari 458 Special A Sports Car | Best Value

RASTAR Ferrari 458 Special A Sports CarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

Meet the Ferrari 458 Special A. It’s our Best Value sports car with heaps of bling. This ready-to-run (RTR) model guarantees to entice a ‘WOW’ from any youngster who unboxes it.

  • Best feature 1: Convertible remote-controlled hard top
  • Best feature 2: High attention to details inside and out
  • Plus points: Ready to run (RTR), full functions, independent suspension, rubber tires, LEDs
  • Minus points: No batteries included, can’t use rechargeables

RC RASTAR Ferrari 458 Main Attractions

The RASTAR Ferrari 458 is an easy to operate sports car even for first-time RC’ers. One of the main attractions is its remote-controlled convertible hard top. That’s as welcome in the model as it is the Real McCoy. The attention to interior and exterior details are incredible for this sports car. And the injection molded ABS plastic provides the vehicle with a robust body and a beautiful glossy finish.

Driving the car is a cinch thanks to its steering-wheel style controller. The forward, reverse, turn left, turn right, and stop controls are all self-explanatory. The vehicle has a 4-wheel independent suspension system, differential gears, and soft rubber tires. The bright front and rear LED lights make the car even more flashy and enjoyable to drive in low light.

You can expect a control range for the RASTAR Ferrari 458 of around 98 feet. The car’s top speed reaches about 10 mph which is average for a toy in its class.

The Not So Good

There are two downsides to this otherwise spectacular model, and they’re both battery related. It’s a higher priced model, yet it doesn’t include the five batteries needed to run it. Furthermore, it can’t accept rechargeables which makes it expensive with regular use.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Scale: 1:14
Makers recommended age: 8+ years
Dimensions: 12.8 x 6.4 x 3.5”
Product Weight: 32 oz.
Max Range: 98 ft. (30 meters)
Battery: 5 AAs (not included)
Running time: 60+ minutes
Charging time: N/A
The Pros
Convertible RC hard top
High attention to details
Ready to run (RTR)
Full dive functions
Independent suspension system
Rubber tires
Bright front & rear LEDs
The Cons
No batteries included
Can’t use rechargeables

3. SHARPER IMAGE RC Italia Sports Car | Top Pick

SHARPER IMAGE RC Italia Sports CarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

It’s easy to see why the RC Italia Sports Car has made the Top Pick. The model has an out-of-this-world futuristic style that adds a real wow factor to the car.

  • Best feature 1: Built-in front-facing FPV camera
  • Best feature 2: Virtual Reality (VR) headset
  • Plus points: Eye-catching, luxurious, futuristic design, LED lights, fast, batteries included
  • Minus points: Quite expensive, small for the money

RC Italia Sports Car Main Attractions

The RC Italia is a European-inspired model with an eye-catching, luxurious, futuristic design. The details are incredible. It has a smooth color-accented sleek body with built-in working head and tail lights. And the fast 80 mph scaled speed shifts the vehicle in a manner that’s fitting with its reputation. The RC Italia comes with a joypad-style remote control (RC) that’s super-easy to use.

The Virtual Driving Seat

The standout feature of this sporty model is its built-in front-facing camera. The First Person View (FPV) puts the person into the virtual racing seat. That means the user sees what the camera sees in real time. It’s no ordinary high-speed FPV experience either. It comes with a VR headset that gives drivers the ultimate immersive experience.

It’s also possible to save and download your racing adventures and play them back later. That can be handy if you want to review your driving skills and learn by any mistakes. This sports car includes rechargeable batteries, and that’s not something most makers provide.

The Not So Good

The cost of this model is quite high compared to others on this page. It’s excellent value, but only for those who want the First Person View experience it offers. There are less expensive options if you just need an RC car without FPV camera capability. The smaller 1/16 scale size surprises some new owners going by the reviews. Scale size is something buyers overlooked all too often.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Scale: 1:16
Makers recommended age: 4+ years
Dimensions: 17.3 x 8.1 x 7.7
Shipping Weight: 49 oz.
Max Range: Not specified
Battery: Not specified (included)
Running time: Not specified
The Pros
Built-in front-facing FPV camera
Included Virtual Reality headset
Easy to operate at beginner level
Eye-catching futuristic design
Working LED head and taillights
Fast 80 mph scaled speed
Includes rechargeable batteries
The Cons
Quite expensive
Small scale for the money

4. Red Lamborghini Veneno RC Sports Racing Car

Red Lamborghini Veneno RC Sports Racing CarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

There’s something alluring about red sports cars. The Lamborghini Veneno wouldn’t look right with any other color. This flashy replica has an eye-catching aerodynamic design—just like the real thing.

  • Best feature 1: Eye-catching optimum aerodynamic design
  • Best feature 2: Easy to operate for kids over eight
  • Plus points: Fast, crash-resistant build, full functions, front/rear LEDs, affordable
  • Minus points: Only runs on smooth hard surfaces, small size

RC Lamborghini Veneno Main Attractions

Consider this vehicle as an excellent RC sports car for anyone above the age of 6 years. It’s a simple model to use yet has enough oomph and features to make it exciting to drive. It’s a flexible mover too and boasts a decent top speed and turning angle.

Other welcome features are the model’s crash-resistant build, bright LED lights, and full drive functions. It’s an excellent all-around sports car RC model for the money.

The Not So Good

The ground clearance for the Lamborghini Veneno is around 1/4 inch or slightly less. Therefore, it works best on hard smooth surfaces and won’t run well across deep pile carpets or grass.

Some buyers complain of the small size of this model. That’s an avoidable buying blunder if only folks take note of the scale. There are also a few complaints about how younger kids find it hard to control. Again, this kind of disappointment is often avoidable by heeding the makers recommended age.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Scale: 1:24
Makers recommended age: 8+ years
Dimensions: 10.7 x 4.3 x 5.8
Product Weight: 9.9 oz.
Max Range: 98 ft. (30 meters)
Battery: 3 x AAA (not included)
Running time: 20 minutes
Charging time: N/A
The Pros
Eye-catching aerodynamics
Easy to operate for the over 8s
Fast for its category
Crash-resistant build
Full driving functions
Bright front/rear LEDs
Affordable price tag
The Cons
Needs hard surfaces to run
Small size

5. Midea Tech Chevrolet Corvette Z06 RC Sports Car

Midea Tech Chevrolet Corvette Z06 RC Sports CarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The Midea Tech Chevrolet Corvette Z06 takes us from racing red to mellow yellow. It’s a beautiful looking RC model with blacked-out windows that give it a sinister feel.

  • Best feature 1: Detailed exterior
  • Best feature 2: Full drive functions
  • Plus points: Ready to run (RTR), easy to operate, crash resistant, 2.4Ghz Radio System
  • Minus points: Only runs on smooth, hard surfaces, no front/rear LEDs

RC Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Main Attractions

This car’s a beast in the real world and deemed the ultimate in pure performance. The RC model version can’t match the supercharged 650 HP or the 650 lb.-ft. of torque. Still, that doesn’t prevent young minds from playing as if it does. This small replica is flexible for a toy. It turns well and moves fast enough to bring excitement to the one driving it. The car also stands up well to moderate prangs.

The low-profile wheels and simulation rubber tires work well to control the vehicle. It even has shock absorbers that provide a damping effect as it races along the ground. The included 2.4Ghz radio system allows up to 8 RC model cars to run free of interference.

The Not So Good

Midea Tech’s Chevrolet Corvette Z06 needs smooth hard surfaces to run. For indoors that means tiles, wood, and laminate floors. Outside it runs well on concrete though asphalt provides the best control. It’s not going to work on surfaces like grass, dirt, or carpets. Another con is the absence of front and rear LED lights. That’s a shame as headlamps and taillights give models an extra realistic touch.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Scale: 1:18
Makers recommended age: Toddler+
Dimensions: 8 x 6 x 4”
Product Weight: 8 oz.
Max Range: Not specified
Battery: 4 x AA (not included)
Running time: Depends on batteries
Charging time: N/A
The Pros
Detailed exterior
Full function controls
Ready to run (RTR)
Easy to operate
Crash-resistant build
2.4Ghz Radio System
The Cons
Only runs on hard surfaces
No front/rear LEDs

6. Force1 High-Speed Gravity Defying RC Sports Car

Force1 High-Speed Gravity Defying RC Sports CarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

This Force1 radio-controlled RC model is no ordinary sports car. What we have here is a flashy high-speed gravity-defying vehicle that belongs in the future.

  • Best feature 1: Multi-surface racing model
  • Best feature 2: Gravity-defying ability (see review)
  • Plus points: Crash resistant, vibrant LEDs, stunt rotation, battery included, fast charging
  • Minus points: Short playing time

It’s worth noting the tiny size of this model as it looks much bigger in the images. The dimensions are just 8 x 6.5 x 2.7”. On a positive note, you wouldn’t want anything bigger crawling up your walls.

RC Gravity Defying Sports Car Main Attractions

This tiny RC car is so much fun for kids who are three years and older. It runs well along floors just like any other model, but it doesn’t stop there. This puppy can climb up walls and across glass once you activate its powerful vacuum. Heck, you can even race upside down across ceilings if you want to. The shiny bright LED lights illuminate the scene so that kids can play in the dark.

The crash-resistant build of this tiny car helps it stand up to those inevitable falls and knocks. Kid’s love the stunt rotation feature that transforms the model into a breakdancing robot. The vehicle does use a lot of electric power (see below), but charging only takes around 45 minutes.

The Not So Good

It’s a tiny model that does a lot of cool stuff. The multi-functions of this impressive car have an impact on the battery though. The maximum playing time on a single charge is just 15 minutes, or 10 minutes if you play flat out. At least the charging time is short.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Scale: N/A (fantasy sports car)
Makers recommended age: 3+ years
Dimensions: 8 x 6.5 x 2.7”
Product Weight: 9.6 oz.
Max Range: Not specified
Battery: Rechargeable LiPo (included)
Running time: 15 minutes
Charging time: 45 minutes
The Pros
Multi-surface racing model
Gravity-defying ability
Crash-resistant
Vibrant LEDs
Stunt rotation
Battery included
Fast charging time
The Cons
Short playing time
Small scale

7. Super GT Nissan RC Sport Racing Drift Car

Super GT Nissan RC Sport Racing Drift CarView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

Last on the list is a sporty race vehicle rather than a luxury sports car. This model is the Super GT Nissan remote control drift car, and it exists to compete.

  • Best feature 1: Durable build, crash-resistant
  • Best feature 2: 4 speed modes
  • Plus points: Excellent first-time sports racer, attention to detail, drift tires, includes batteries
  • Minus points: Short playing time

RC Super GT Nissan Main Attractions

This Super GT RC sport racing drift car by Hobby Ace is fast and furious yet simple to operate. Its four speed modes make it an ideal learner model. The flexible, crash-resistant PC shell, stands up well to those inevitable high-speed accidents. The car’s drift performance is as exciting to watch as it is to achieve. Maneuvers include impressive U-shapes, figure of 8s, action sensitive and gesture drifts.

Drift racing seems highly skilled, but it’s much easier than it looks thanks to the specialized tires. The 2.4Ghz remote controller (RC) is comfortable to use and allows multiple cars to race. The straightforward control functions include right turn/left, forward/backward—that’s it. This model comes with a rechargeable car battery but you must buy a 9V for the remote controller.

The Not So Good

The playing time is 15 minutes at best and around 10 minutes on average. That means regular interruptions to recharge the batteries which takes 90 minutes. Most users invest in extra batteries. The car runs on affordable 700Mah1.5V AA NI-Cds. Always remember to allow a few minutes for the brushed motor to cool down between battery swaps.

amazon

Tech Specs
Model Scale: 1:16
Makers recommended age: 4+ years
Dimensions: 11.8 x 4.7 x 3.1
Product Weight: 19.2 oz.
Max Range: 98 ft. (30 meters)
Battery: 700Mah1.5V AA NI-Cd
Running time: 15 minutes
Charging time: 90 minutes
The Pros
Durable build
Crash-resistant
4 speed modes
Excellent first-time racer
Attention to detail
Drift tires
Includes battery
The Cons
Short playing time

The post 7 Best RC Sports Cars of 2019 appeared first on 3D Insider.

DJI Follow Me Mode – What is it and How Does it Work?

Shooting dynamic aerial videos is one of the most fun things you can do with your drone. Using its array of sensors and positional tracking modules, your drone may be the best companion to capture the memories of all your adventures. Keeping track of fast-moving subjects can be very challenging even for highly-skilled drone pilots, which is why most modern camera drones come pre-programmed with pilot-aiding flight modes. For instance, DJI drones come with a veritable suite of Intelligent Flight Modes designed to help drone photographers capture smooth and high-quality videos under any conditions.

One of the more basic modes that can be used to track a dynamic subject is Follow Me. Although this mode has seemingly been overshadowed in popularity by the more versatile ActiveTrack, it is still a very useful and a more reliable option. How does Follow Me work and what are the best ways to do it? 

What is Follow Me mode?

True to its name, Follow Me mode makes the drone follow you. It is distinctly different from ActiveTrack because it uses the GPS signal from your mobile device to transmit your position to the drone. In contrast, ActiveTrack uses the drone’s visual sensors to identify a subject for the drone to follow.

Although Follow Me is not as versatile as ActiveTrack in terms of the options of subjects to follow, it is a far more reliable alternative. By relying on the phone’s GPS position, the drone can follow a subject from a higher altitude or even when it gets obscured from view.

Which DJI drones support Follow Me?

Unfortunately for pilots who prefer to use Follow Me to ActiveTrack, it is not as widely available as most of the other DJI Intelligent Flight Modes. The Phantom 4 series of drones, Mavic Pro, and the Mavic Pro Platinum all have Follow Me. The more basic models, such as the Spark and the Mavic Air, only have ActiveTrack.

Based on the more recent releases from DJI, the future does not bode well for the Follow Me mode. Emphasizing this is the fact that the new Mavic 2 drones come with an updated ActiveTrack 2.0, which seemingly combines the best features of Follow Me and the original ActiveTrack. The result is a massively improved mode that performs better in terms of keeping track of a subject.

How do you activate Follow Me mode?

Activating Follow Me isn’t any different from all the other DJI Intelligent Flight Modes. To pull up the menu for the flight modes, you simply need to press the remote control-shaped icon at the left-hand portion of the DJI GO app’s main screen. Simply click the Follow Me option in the menu that comes up. Take note that the Follow Me option may be on the second page of the menu.

Upon clicking the Follow Me button, a screen should come up that states how strong the GPS signal of the subject is, its distance from the drone, and the altitude of the drone. Follow Me will work across a wide altitude range – from 10 meters up to 500 meters. However, it is best used to within around 100 meters to ensure that the signal does not drop out in the middle of the flight.

From this point, you can start moving around and have the drone follow you with its camera. While flying, you still have full control of the camera’s gimbal and can adjust the drone’s altitude to help you compose your shot.

How does Follow Me mode work?

1. GPS technology

The biggest difference between Follow Me and ActiveTrack is the former’s use of GPS technology instead of visual sensors. This means that the drone can follow a subject even when it becomes obscured from the camera’s view by trees or other obstacles. Even if your device loses its GPS signal, the drone can usually regain a GPS fix as soon as the GPS signal becomes available again. Follow Me is also a better option for tracking fast-moving subject reliably.

The downside of Follow Me is that the subject needs to be holding the controller somewhere in their body. This may not be practical at all times, such as when the subject is swimming, hiking, or skiing. Perhaps it is this limitation that is driving DJI’s preference for further developing ActiveTrack instead of Follow Me.

2. Independent gimbal movement

Similar to ActiveTrack, Follow Me also gives you independent control of the gimbal while the drone is flying autonomously. While this sounds great on paper, it’s not as smooth in implementation considering that the subject and the pilot is essentially the same person. With too many things to think of all at once, composing a shot while simultaneously moving may just result in an accident.

3. Obstacle avoidance

Fortunately, obstacle avoidance is still activated while the drone is moving in Follow Me mode. This does not give you an excuse to be careless, as not all obstacles are visible to the drone’s visual sensors and not all drones are equipped with multi-directional obstacle avoidance.

Tips on using Follow Me mode?

1. Keep the drone at low altitude

By using GPS technology, Follow Me mode can theoretically operate up to an altitude of 500 meters. However, hovering too high also puts more distance between the drone and the controller, increasing the risk of a signal dropout. Just as with any other DJI drone, losing signal in the middle of the flight will activate the drone’s return-to-home function and will likely ruin your shot.

In any case, capturing in Follow Me mode while hovering above 100 meters will render many of the finer details of a subject’s movement barely visible. We find that the best Follow Me videos are those shot from a tight perspective, as it truly captures how dynamic the subject is.

2. Fly in a wide, open space

The primary objective of the drone’s obstacle avoidance is to keep your drone safe, not to continue tracking the subject. Although the drone will try its best to fly over an obstacle should it encounter on in Follow Me mode, there is also a huge chance that the drone will end up stopping in its tracks and just hovering in place. This makes doing Follow Me flights a bad idea when in high-traffic or obstacle-rich environments. If you want your shot to proceed uninterrupted, it’s still best to fly in an open space.

3. Avoid barely-visible obstacles

The obstacle avoidance of the drones that have Follow Me rely on visual sensors to identify obstacles. This means that the sensors cannot reliably detect barely-visible obstacles, such as the small branches and leaves along a forest trail.

Final thoughts

Follow Me mode was one of the earliest Intelligent Flight Modes available in DJI drones but has largely become overshadowed by the newer ActiveTrack. However, Follow Me’s use of the mobile device’s GPS signal is quite innovative and makes Follow Me a much more reliable tracking method. The practicality of using Follow Me is still limited by the need for the subject to also be the one holding the remote controller.

Based on how DJI has decided to upgrade ActiveTrack in the recently released Mavic 2 drones, it’s very likely that the sun has set on the Follow Me feature. Hopefully, future iterations of tracking modes in DJI drones capture the essence of Follow Me, combinings its reliability with the versatility of ActiveTrack.

The post DJI Follow Me Mode – What is it and How Does it Work? appeared first on 3D Insider.

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Book of the Week: Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down

Tension studies occupy three chapters, where such parts like boilers, pressure vessels, joints, attachments, and soft substances are researched.

It starts with a survey of”elasticity”, with various chapters covering such topics as stress & strain, load notions, safety & trust, and fracture mechanisms.

The fourth area of the novel discusses design doctrine as it pertains to efficacy, financial expenses, safety issues and aspects. Appendices contain useful formulae for other things as well as projects.

This week’s choice is”Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down” from J. E. Gordon.

Because I’ve a suspicion many of the subscribers of this novel aren’t officially trained in engineering, and thus could benefit from an introduction to these 35, I’m thinking about this book. When designing 3D printed parts, specially the ones that will constitute structures that are larger, it would be of amazing benefit to know precisely what is happening automatically.
And by doing so, one can fix the design to possess an even operational, dependable and secure project.

Part three investigates compression, where both dams walls, arches, bridges, and beams are all explored. Failure modes are researched, including also other causes, torsion, and also shear.
The book is notable since it is one of 14 novels that prompted ultra-entrepreneur Elon Musk for success, together with other fiction and technical works. If he helped him , you could be helped by it, too.
This 400-page book was first published back in 1981, although there is a modern 2003 edition. It is an introduction to the science of shows and structures, clinically, the way things hold together.

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How to Finish Your PLA Prints – Easy Techniques

3D printers have come a long way in the last couple of decades. Nowadays, 3D printers are smaller, faster, more flexible, and easier to use than ever. Almost all of the desktop printers in use nowadays are of the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) type, which has become popular because it is cheap and relies on simple operation principles. However, even the best FDM printers have not yet overcome one of their biggest limitations – prints coming out with visible layer lines.

Fortunately, there are several ways for you to achieve a smooth finish in your PLA print. Depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to spend on the finishing process, it’s possible to get finish quality ranging from mere removal of layer lines to a glossy, glass-like surface.

What is PLA and why do you need to finish a PLA print?

Polylactic Acid (PLA) is one of the two most popular filament materials used for FDM printing. It’s cheap, easy to use, versatile, and available in a variety of colors. It’s quickly solidifying its role as the default material for 3D printing due to its odor-free, low-warp and environment-friendly characteristics. PLA is made from corn starch, a fully renewable source, and is manufactured using less energy compared to petroleum-based plastics.

FDM technology is based on the buildup of successive layers of filament material to form a three-dimensional object. Although tweaks on the 3D printing software can be made to reduce the layer height of a print, it is still impossible to create a print completely devoid of layer lines right out of the FDM printer.

While an unfinished PLA print is still perfectly functional, its visual appeal can be massively improved even with the most basic finishing techniques. If you are attempting to do 3D printing for any commercial purpose, then mastering these finishing techniques will be a valuable addition to your skillset.

PLA finishing methods

Petroleum-based materials, such as ABS, have very easy and passive methods of finishing that involve vaporizing of a suitable solvent. Unfortunately, PLA lacks this quality of convenient solubility. This means that the finishing techniques for PLA are a little more involved. If you want to get a high-quality finish with your PLA print, then be ready to put some elbow grease into it.

1. Sanding

Any decent PLA finishing job starts with sanding. Sanding removes the outermost layer of PLA material, greatly reducing the number of visible ridges on the surface of the print. For best results, you need to use multiple grits of sandpaper. Start with a coarse 200-grit paper, then move up to 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2500 up to 3000. Although you can skip some of the grit grades in this sequence, a professional-grade finish will require these many steps.

When sanding, it is important to maintain a circular motion so that the finish does not come out with a visible direction bias. You also need to resist the urge to sand too fast, as the heat generated by friction could be enough to melt the PLA material. This also means that sanding using a machine is out of the question.

We also recommend using a ‘wet sanding’ technique. To pull this off, you’ll need waterproof sandpaper. By slightly wetting the sandpaper, you keep the PLA material cool and prevent it from melting. The water also helps to mobilize the particles that come loose during the sanding process, removing them from the surface of the print and making the process faster and more efficient. A wet sanding method can be used no matter what grit size of sandpaper you have.

The more time you spend sanding your PLA print, the smoother finish you will get. Don’t worry too much, though, as you’ll need to spend less and less time as you go from one grit size to the next. Be mindful of small details in the print, so your finish comes with consistent quality.

2. Polishing

Even with your best efforts, layer lines cannot be completely erased by mere sanding. The result of all the hard work sanding your PLA print will only really pop after you apply a polishing agent. Any high-quality liquid metal polish will do, such as the ever-reliable Brasso Multi-Purpose Metal Polish. To apply the polish, simply apply a small amount on a soft cotton cloth and rub this into the surface of the 3D print in small circular motions. The metal polish will fill any micro-striations in the 3D print’s surface.

If you can’t find a liquid metal polish, then solid wax-based polishing compounds will do nicely. To use a solid polisher, simply rub a piece of soft cloth on the bar. A very thin layer of the wax material will adhere to the cloth, which you simply need to rub on the surface of the 3D print. Solid polishing compounds are also highly compatible with buffing wheels which can greatly speed up the polishing process. If you decide to use a buffing wheel to finish your PLA print, it’s best to use it at the lowest speed setting to reduce friction with the plastic material.

Repeat application of the metal polish until the surface feels sufficiently smooth and looks shiny. The last step to get a mirror-like finish is to buff the surface of the print. This is simply done by rubbing the surface with a piece of soft cloth that has none of the metal polish. You should see a prominent improvement in the smoothness of the surface as you continue buffing.

3. Priming

A third option for finishing your PLA print is to use a primer spray paint in combination with the sanding technique. A cheap can of Rust-Oleum works best for this method. After you have finished sanding using the highest grit sandpaper, simply spray a thin and even coat of Rust-Oleum on your print. This material will fill in all the smalls paces in the surface of the print and will dry in just a few minutes.

The advantage of using Rust-Oleum is that it can be sanded to get a smooth finish. After the coating has dried, simply sand the renewed surface to you’ll see how smooth the Rust-Oleum compound is when sanded. You don’t need to stop at a single layer. If you find that some areas of your print are rougher than others, you can spray an additional layer of Rust-Oleum on those areas and sand again to finish.

4. Heating

Heating is a rarely done method of PLA finishing as it requires a lot of skill and finesse. As the technique obviously uses a significant amount of heat, doing it wrong can easily lead to completely ruining your PLA print.

Heat finishing uses a heat gun, such as this 1550-watt model from DeWalt. Before proceeding to the heat gun step, we still recommend completing the whole sanding process. Sanding reveals much of the plastic in the surface of the 3D print, making smoothing by heat faster and more even.

To finish your 3D print, simply point the heat gun at the object and maintain slow and constant motion. It is best to set the temperature of the heat gun only slightly above PLA’s glass transition temperature, at around 80 to 100 °C. Don’t allow the heat gun to stay pointed at any single area, as prolonged exposure will easily melt PLA.

Although PLA is well-known for being odorless when heated, any heat treatment will inevitably produce fumes. When heat finishing your PLA print, make sure that you are doing it in an open or well-ventilated area.

5. Epoxy Coating

The downside of relying on a finishing technique that requires sanding is that it takes a lot of time. Although sanding small, handheld items will only take several minutes at most; larger prints might take hours. Applying multiple coats, waiting for them to dry, and sanding again, can be an excessively long process that is impractical when producing multiple 3D printer parts.

If you are pressed for time, then it might be best to use a brush-on epoxy coating such as the XTC-3D from Smooth-On. This product is made of two liquids that, when combined, create a resin-like material that can be brushed on the surface of your 3D print. This material fills in all the gaps in the surface of the print and self-levels so that no brush strokes will be visible. It takes 4 hours for the material to cure, after which it forms a smooth, hard, and impact-resistant coating.

The coating produces by XTC-3D is also one of the most workable materials you can have, as it can be readily sanded, primed, and painted. It is also one of the most versatile finishing products available today, as it can also be used with ABS, SLA, powder-painted parts, urethane foam, wood, plaster, paper, and fabric. The XTC-3D might be a little expensive, but the time and effort you’ll save, as well as the versatility of the material, are well worth the price.

Final thoughts

3D printing can start as a fun little hobby, and you’ll probably start out making prints that are far from perfect. As you refine your skills, you will develop higher expectations for the quality of your prints. However, the skill of adjusting the printing speed and layer thickness of your 3D printer can only take you so far. Even the best 3D printers still produce prints with unsightly layer lines.

To truly take your 3D printing craft to the next level, you will have to learn and master several finishing methods. Take note that the finishing methods outlined above are only applicable for PLA – other filament materials will require totally different methods.

The post How to Finish Your PLA Prints – Easy Techniques appeared first on 3D Insider.

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