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[CASE STUDY] How We Made a HondaJet Elite Mockup

Now we will tell you how we 3D printed a model of the HondaJet Elite aircraft.

HONDAJet Elite is a small-sized business jet released by Honda Aircraft. This plane is an upgraded version of HA-420 HondaJet, the previous model.

HondaJet Elite. Photo by Honda Aircraft Company

In 2018, the HondaJet became the best-selling aircraft in its class for the second year in a row - 37 units were sold worldwide over the course of the year.

HondaJet Elite took over and is now the only sold version of the aircraft. The flying range of the jet is increased and the airframe is made of carbon composite, which makes it lighter and stronger than aluminum construction.

HondaJet Elite became a leader in the segment with its superior speed, flying range and rate of climb.

Characteristics

  • Max Cruise Speed: 422 KTAS (782 km/h)
  • Max Cruise Altitude: 43,000 Ft (13,106 m)
  • Range:     1437 Nm (2,661 km)
  • Rate Of Climb: 4,100 Ft/min (1,250 m/min)
  • Length: 42.62 Ft (12.99 m)
  • Height: 14.90 Ft (4.54 m)
  • Wingspan: 39.76 Ft (12.12 m)
  • Seating: 2 Crew + 5 Passengers or 1 Crew + 6 Passengers

 

About the project

The customer ordered a high-precision digital 3D model of a 9.8-inch model that was brought from Japan.

We performed a 3D scan and created a digital model. After the delivery of work the customer gave us another task: to create a realistic 3.2 ft. jet mockup for display at air shows.

The client explained what functions and properties he would like to see in the resulting product.

The model was intended for demonstration at various exhibitions, which meant a lot of transportation. Therefore, it needed to be strong and sturdy. We decided to place the aircraft model on the massive stand that would provide maximum stability. We paid special attention to small things like light engineering. It was necessary to place red and green diodes along the edges of the wings. The main body of the model was to be about 3 ft long. And, of course, it was important to meet the deadline.

 

How we did it

3D scanning

We received an original metal scale model from the Honda factory. We scanned it with a RangeVision PRO 5M 3D scanner, which is often used in jewelry making due to its high accuracy. The obtained digital model was then scaled and prepared for 3D printing.

The customer wanted to make sure that all curved surfaces, edges and fuselage geometry would be accurately displayed on the model.

The original metal mockup was painted and varnished. Such surfaces require a special approach. Prior to the scan, the model was coated with developer spray to make it matt and suspend all glare and reflections that can decrease the scan quality.

We scanned the small aircraft and put together a digital model using special software. A day later, our client received a digital 3D model in the STL format.

Later we used this model to create a mockup.

Most of the construction turned out perfectly with just a 3D scan. However, the smallest of details, the turbine blades in the engines weren’t precisely captured by the scanner. We had to finish them with Geomagic Design X and print using a Formlabs Form 2 resin SLA 3D printer.

The stand was also designed separately. We’ll tell you more about it below.

 

3D printing

The object was printed in parts on Hercules Strong (build volume of 11.8 x 11.8 x 15.7 inches) and PICASO 3D Designer X 3D printers, with ABS filaments from REC, SEM and U3Print.

Printing, including remaking some of the parts took about 1.5 weeks. The total mass of all the parts was slightly less than 8.8 lbs.

 

Assembly, installation, processing

All the printed parts were put together and glued into a single model.

Before the final assembly, our designers teamed up with engineers to consider the type of stand best suited for the model, what materials to choose and how to attach it to the jet. It was decided to drill a hole for a large bolt, insert the bolt and lock it in place using a 3D pen, acetone and some EP resin.

Several layers of primer were applied and one of our engineers manually smoothed out the surface of the jet. Before being painted, the model needed to undergo up to 8 cycles of polishing, priming and machine processing.

Before the final processing, we scanned the lower part of the aircraft, lower wings and fuselage in order to create a fitting support stand. To perform a successful scan, we lifted a model up in the air for a couple of seconds and scanned the belly of the aircraft, receiving an STL file. For that we used a portable Shining Einscan Pro+ 3D scanner.

The angle, at which the bolt was inserted into the plane was of a major importance. We performed reverse engineering to create a 3D model of the upper part of the support stand, aligned it with the surface of our aircraft and added the hole to achieve the highest compatibility.

The support stand was made of a 0.98-inch MDF on a SolidCraft CNC-6090 milling machine, then it was processed and painted.

All joints were processed with solvents and sealed with a Myriwell RP100B 3D pen.

After assembly, the model was sanded, primed and painted. As a result, all the seams were completely hidden.

The wiring for LEDs was installed inside the model.

The wire ducts were installed in the wings in advance, before final assembly. We originally planned to attach the power supply unit to the support stand or hide it inside the stand. However, first of all, this could affect the overall aesthetics of the model; second of all, always plugging into a rose knot isn’t so convenient. That is why we decided to install a battery operation. Through milling we freed enough space inside the stand and inserted the battery block.

The appearance of the mockup ideally suits its representational purpose - it will look great at exhibitions.

 

How it used to be done

Before 3D printing, such models were either made manually, which had its drawbacks, such as:

  • the duration and complexity of work
  • the high cost
  • the inability to preserve the perfect geometry
  • or by special order at large enterprises, which excluded the possibility to create a single copy or a small batch and made the process even more expensive.

 

The benefits of 3D printing

3D printing allows you to speed up the process and reduce costs of manufacturing mockups and other known areas of implementation. These are not just mere words, this has been confirmed by many years of our work in the industry (you can read about it in our blog), as well as all the cases of application of additive technologies known to us.

If you’re a model maker we can provide all the equipment you need, including CNC routers and engravers, 3D printers and consumables.

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