DRAGON - M3

Crew Dragon Spacecraft - Model 3 (Product ID: DRAGON-M3)

What is this?

This is a 3D printed scale model designed based on the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft – which was used in the Demo-2 mission!

Background: SpaceX has become the first private company to launch human beings into orbit, after its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft – carrying two NASA astronauts – successfully blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday the 30th May 2020. On the following day (Sunday the 31st May 2020), SpaceX’s new Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS), marking another major milestone for SpaceX’s first crewed mission of the Crew Dragon!

Inspired by the successful launch of the new SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, I decided to make this 3D printed model, which can be used not only to inspire more children to become astronauts in the future, but also to pursue STEM careers when they grow up.

How can I have one?

You can either (1) download the STL files and make it yourself on your 3D printer OR (2) order the 3D printed model directly from us (only available for the DRAGON-MS version). If you choose to order the 3D printed model, you can also decide whether you want to receive it fully assembled or as a kit (so you can assemble the model yourself)

Please note: there are two versions of this model:

1) Crew Dragon Spacecraft – Model 3 (DRAGON-M3)
STL files: FREE to download (click on this LINK to download STLs)
3D printed model: We don’t supply 3D printed model of this version

2) Crew Dragon Spacecraft – Model S (DRAGON-MS)
STL files: £40
3D printed model: £260 (shipping and display case not included)

Technical Specifications:

Scale: 1/27
Overall dimensions: Trunk Diameter (without fins): 130mm, Height (top of Nose Cone to bottom of the Trunk): 290mm
Manufacturing lead time: 1 week
Total number of 3D printed parts: 37
Material used: Ultimaker PLA
3D printer: Ultimaker S5

 How was this model designed?

This model was designed using publicly available material from the internet including CAD models, videos and pictures of the real SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. See list below for more details:

Pressurised Crew Section
The pressurised crew section was ultilised from the existing Draco Pod model by Prot0typ1cal (see LINK). He has done a fantastic job modelling the outer body of the spacecraft so I used his model (with his permission) as reference and added my personal touches. I re-designed a few parts of his model (e.g. Heat Shield, Tube, Hinge) so they can be printed with ease and also, make the model compatible with the Trunk I designed.

Unpressurised Cargo Section (aka. Trunk)
I designed the Trunk (unpressurised cargo section) from scratch based on the photos/videos of the spacecraft available on the SpaceX’s website (see LINK). I tried to replicate the exterior of the Trunk as much as I can, including the number of radiators, solar panels and their locations around the Trunk.

Astronauts in SpaceX ‘s Suit
I came across the SpaceX Astronant model, designed by Gil P. de Paulo on GrabCAD (see LINK) and I think it would be a really nice touch to print this model at the right scale and put it next to the spacecraft model. This would definitely help people (including myself) to understand the true scale of the real SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft in reality (as many of us don’t have the luxury to see it with our own naked eyes)

How to print this model?

Most of the STL files are really straight forward to print. All you need to do is load them into your slicer software (I use Cura), select your desirable settings (e.g. layer height, infill percentage, etc.) and slice the parts. I used 0.4mm nozzle (0.2mm layer height) to print most parts and 0.25mm nozzle (0.1mm layer height to print small parts (e.g. pins, washers, links, etc.)

However, there are 4 particular parts which I want to give you some tips:

SpaceX Astronaut: You need to scale the astronaut model down to 60% to get the correct scale (in relation to the rest of the model). Also, print with raft to create a small base for the model to stand on its own

Body: Print in the orientation shown below. Use support ‘everywhere’ but DO NOT use support at one location shown in the picture below (otherwise, you may struggle to remove support due to restricted access):  the holes and slots located on the top of the model (this is where the hinge is fitted). As you can see in the picture, I created a Support Blocker on the model to prevent any support to be generated at this location.

Nose Cone: Print in the orientation shown below. Use support but DO NOT use support for the holes and slots where the hinge is fitted. Again, as illustrated, I used a Support Blocker at this location

Trunk: The entire Trunk can be printed without any support except the areas underneath the fins. Therefore, you can create a ‘huge’ Support Blocker as shown in the picture to avoid any support from being generated on the model BUT leave the fins out because we need support underneath them

How to assemble this model?

So now you’ve got all your parts printed? – Great!, let’s assemble the model!.
This model is super simple (yet impressive) to assemble. However, before we start, you’ll need to purchase some super glue and magnets to put this model together:
1) 10mm dia x 2mm thick Neodymium magnets (LINK) (Qty required: 8)
2) Super glue (LINK)

STEP 1: Assemble the Hinge, Body and Nose Cone
What you need (refer to the photos below):
3x Link (a)
2x Apin (b)
1x Bpin (c)
2x Cpin (d)
1x Large Washer (e)
1x Small Washer (f)
1x Short Dowel (g)
1x Long Dowel (h)
1x Nose Cone (i)
1x Body (j)

All parts in STEP 1 should be easily fitted together without any super glue. Some parts are quite small so I suggest you use a tweezer to handle them

STEP 2: Complete the exterior of the Pressurised Crew Section 
What you need:
1x Sub-assembly from STEP 1
4x Window
1x DracoFrontLeft
1x DracoFrontRight
1x DracoRearLeft
1x DracoRearRight
2x SideDraco

Super-glue ALL the Window’s and Draco’s to the Body sub-assembly (from STEP 1)

STEP 3: Assemble the Base
What you need:
1x Heat Shield
4x Pod 
4x SuperDraco
1x Panel

Super-glue the 4 Pod’s to the Heat Shield
Super-glue the 4 SuperDraco’s into the 4 Pod’s
Press fit the Panel into the 
Heat Shield

STEP 4: Assemble the ‘Ceiling’ sub-assembly
What you need:
1x Seal 
1x Hard Capture System
1x Roof
1x TopDraco

Press fit Seal into Hard Capture System 
Press fit Hard Capture System into Roof 
(ensure that the data & power plug and data & power socket on both sides of the Hard Capture System fully engage with their slots on the Roof) 
Press fit Top Draco into Roof 
(from underneath) (Fun fact: These thrusters on the top of the spacecraft are used to abort docking with the ISS whilst the SuperDraco engines you assembled at STEP 3 are used for launch abort)

STEP 5: Assemble the whole Pressurised Crew Section
What you need:
1x ‘Ceiling’ sub-assembly from STEP 4
1x Base from STEP 3
1x Exterior sub-assembly from STEP 2
1x Nose Ring 

Fit Exterior sub-assembly (STEP 2) to Base (STEP 3) – use glue if required
Cut open the Nose Ring at the marked location
Super-glue the Nose Ring and ‘Ceiling’ sub-assembly (STEP4) onto the sub-assembly above

STEP 6: Assemble the Trunk to the Pressurised Crew Section
What you need – refer to the photos below:
1x Trunk * (a)
1x Pressurised Crew Section from STEP 5 (b)
1x Latch (c)
8x Magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thick) (highlighted in ORANGE)
2x Astronauts (d)

* I printed the Trunk on an dual-extrusion printer (Ultimaker S5), therefore, I can print two halves of the Trunk (Front and Rear) at the same time with two different colours (Black & White). If you don’t have a dual-extrusion printer, you can either (1) print the whole Trunk in one colour (use the Trunk (1-piece) STL) and paint half of it with another colour OR (2) print two halves separately in two colours and glue them together. 
 
Super-glue 4 magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thick) into the 4 holes located on the top face of the Trunk
Super-glue 4 magnets (10mm dia x 2mm thick) into the 4 holes located on the bottom face of the Heat Shield (ensure that these magnets are installed correctly so that they attract the ones on the bottom face of the Trunk, instead of repelling them)

Place the Pressurised Crew Section on the Trunk, the magnets should hold these two sections together beautifully and concentrically to each other
Press fit the Latch into the Trunk (this can be super-glue to the Trunk if you want) and place astronauts next to the model

And THAT’S ALL DONE! Congratulations, you have just built a super cool spacecraft! If you really want to take this model to the next level, why not check out the DRAGON-MS Version?

FAQ

1, Does it fly? No, it doesn’t
2, Can the model be stripped down to piece part level? Depends, if you don’t glue parts together then yes

Would you like to give us some feedback on the DRAGON-M3 model? Please leave your comment below:

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Arley Ramos
Arley Ramos
13 days ago

Amazing model, and buying the proper filaments to start, but one thing that i can´t figure it out: You did a recomendation to print the body, but the truth is, i can´t evee see the body model when i open on my Cura 4.7.1 (Windows7). First time i saw this on a model, nad can´t find a solution all over the internet. I even tried the PrusaSlicer, and got the same issue. Can´t see nothing on the slicer. Others partes appears fine. Ever saw something like it? Grats for the amazing design. True talent! Can´t wait to start mine.

Patrice Oostermeyer
Patrice Oostermeyer
1 month ago

Really nice model it turned out to be great! The smaller hinge parts were a pain to print on my homemade Alibaba Prusa MK3 but eventually it worked.

Peter Woolley
Peter Woolley
2 months ago

i really enjoyed making the M3. It really helped me to get to know how to tweak the printer to get the best results out of it. The M3 prints really well and needs little in the way of adjusting to make parts fit. Other than the normal finishing off prints that is expected. All in all if you can wait for long prints and want something that looks awesome on your desk then really go for the M3. Dont make the same mistake i did and get the polarity wrong on the magnets! double check before you super glue…. i printed all parts in 0.2mm so took a while but the end result it worth it. Sunlu Filament, on an Ender 3 Pro

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