Digital Kit Design » The Bumble’thopter

I love ornithopters. Flapping flight has always been a fascination and after having read Dune several times in the 1990s I was hooked on the concept, even construction some from balsa and tissue based on plans I found online. Once of my first solo kit productions before Industria Mechanika was the Hornethopter, a hornet-shaped ornithopter with a steampunk aesthetic. It was one of my all-time best selling kits and inspired many other concepts and two more kit productions, a Dragonfly and a Deaths-Head Hawkmoth. The latter, while IMO superior to the original hornet in terms of style and construction were not nearly as popular as the first. This was also the case with my two Fish-Shaped submersible kits. So I ended up putting my concepts on hold until I started to create kits in 3D.

The Bumble’thopter is a friendlier ornithopter than the original hornet design featuring a grappling hook instead of a harpoon stinger and heating for two pilots. Racks on the sides of the rear legs are used for carrying and delivering bulky cargo, much like a bee. I utilized what I learned about elastic tension figures after the Goblin Robot kit and used that type of joint for the legs and wings. This allows the builder to have the option of either gluing the parts into a fixed pose like the original kits, or to keep those parts movable in case they change their mind.

While I was able to keep my overall original aesthetic, the main change ended up being the design of the wings. As a digital kit, everything needed to be 3D printable, so the photoetch wings with a layer of clear plastic sandwiched within were just not going to work here. And the thought of having to clean print lines out of individual clear wing sections was not appealing to me or my customers. I ended up designing a wing that works more like a kite and one could print it as one solid part or just print the frame and cut the clear portion from plastic.

The Bumble’thopter was designed as a digital kit using Autodesk Fusion 360. Due to the rush of constantly designing new monthly content, I have not been able to assemble or clean the one print I’ve made of it, however more than a few customers have built and painted their own in a myriad of colors. I designed and optimized this kit to be resin-printed in 1/35 scale to match my other hand-sculpted Steampunk subs and ornithopters. I always consider the intended scale/print-size when designing to maximize what can be done to make sure all of the details are crisp and not too thin or thick visually.

The Bumble’thopter was available to my upper-tier FichtenFoo Patreon subscribers as part of my monthly digital-kit drops during May 2021. After that month, the files were added to the Industria Mechanika shop as a retail-priced digital kit product. You can purchase the digital-kit files complete with instructions and print your own Bumble’thopter here.

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