Hovercraft’s which are also known as air-cushion vehicle or AVC can travel on over land, water, mud or ice and other surfaces.Unlike all the other vehicles we know, a Hovercraft does not touch the ground to get the lift, it uses blowers to produce a large volume of air below the hull that is slightly above atmospheric pressure. The thus generated air cushion makes the vehicle levitate in air making the journey smoother than any other vehicle. Surprisingly the first ever reference of such vehicle was done in 1716 by a Swedish scientist Emanuel Swedenborg and the air cushion design which is symbolic to these vehicles was patented by a British shipbuilder John Isaac Thornycroft in the year 1870. If you look up on the internet you will find a lot of DIY hovercraft projects which can be made with little to no experience and believe me it’s an extremely fascinating vehicle to make.
Jan Bürstner is a Hovercraft enthusiast and was working on one such DIY project when he got inspired to make an Open Source 3D Printed Hovercraft. He designed all the parts of the hovercraft himself using the Autodesk’s Inventor 2013 software and has uploaded the same on Thingiverse. This allows anyone with a 3D printed to download the STL and create their own motorized hovercraft design.
The current model of the 3D printed Hovercraft is the 3rd iteration and probably the most versatile model. In the earlier version of the Hovercraft Mr. Bürstner, experience issues like inability to control them outside of turning around their own axis, the inability to carry weight. The other major issue he faced was that the Vehicle was unable to recover from damages to the propeller caused by small pebbles. This was solved by adding a rubber base which could be a cycle tube attached to the base.
Jan Bürstner, printed the HoverCraft using a MakerbotReplicator printer with 15% infill on his two-shelled parts at a speed of 75 mm/s. According to him all the parts of the design takes around 3 days to print and uses two motors while a single thrust motor helps control the direction of the craft. 2800 mAhLipo batteries are used to power the motor that run the propeller to make the air cushion and the thrust. The HoverCraft could also be fitted with LED lights as well as small action camera to capture the ride.
We spoke to the designer Jan Bürstner he said “I did not print the base because it would take way too long. Styrofoam has the advantage that it swims when the engines fail. I also did not print the bicycle tubes because they have to be flexible and they must be one piece so that no air flows out to the sides.”
We asked what MrBürstner future plans were and he said that he wants to develop a mobile research station to test his 3D Printed HoverCraftin extreme terrain conditions such as the Arctic.