Introduction: World's First? Full 3D Printable Ornithopter Assembly Instruction

Designed by Yusuke Takahashi(Fablab Kitakagaya/The Flapping Wing Factory) using Autodesk 123D Design

Step 1: The Ornithoper "Flying Pants" Developed As a FABLAB Workshop Item in 2013

The original version was made of hybrid materials such as SLS(*) printed parts and carbon rods.
*SLS(Selective Laser Sintative): One of the high-end 3D printing technologies

Step 2: Design Update for Personal 3D Printers

In 2014, personal 3D printers are becoming more and more affordable, so I revised the parts design suitable to these printers.
The new design is suitable for any personal FFF(fused filament fabrication) type 3D printers like as Reprap, Replicator, and Cube, etc.

Step 3: There Are Several Sites Where You Can Freely Download the CAD Data of the Parts

Step 4: You Can Also Order the 3D Printed Parts at 3D Printing Services

Step 5: Specification of "Flying Pants"

Wing span: 300 mm
Length: 135 mm
Weight: around 2.5 grams
Power source: medium size rubber band * 2
Suitable materials: polyamid(SLS*) or ABS(FFF)
* Select "White Strong & Flexible" (Shapeways)
" ナイロン ( ポリアミド)"(
You also need a small paper clip for the crank and
a thin plastic bag for the wing membrane.

Step 6: Parts Check and Preparation

3D printed parts are often printed with a raft and supports.
They should be removed and cleaned up carefully.

Step 7: Parts Clean-up

A raft may be peeled off by hands.
Supports should be removed using cutter knives.
Parts surface can be finished by engineers files.

Step 8: Assembly of the Right Arm and the Frame

The right arm is fixed to the frame.
They are designed as snap-fit, but you can fix them by a drop of instant glue.

Step 9: Assembly of the Left Arm and the Frame

The left arm is a moving parts.
The arm should be able to flap freely.
If it won't flap smoothly, enlarge the holes of the arm by drills or reamers.

Step 10: Making of the Crankshaft

The crankshaft can be made from a small paper clip.
Bend it carefully using a needle nose plier and cut an excess off.

Step 11: Making of the Crankshaft

Diameter of the hook is approx. 3mm.

Step 12: Making of the Crankshaft -Finish

Length of straight part are approx. 8mm.

Step 13: Assembly of the Crankshaft and the Frame

Push the crancshaft into the holes of the frame.

Step 14: Assembly of the Crank and the Rocking Arm

Slot the crank pin into the slit of the rocking arm.

Step 15: Hook Rubber Bands

Hook a pair of rubber bands to the crank end and
 the frame.

Step 16: Test Run

Wind the crank up about thirty times.
As the crank rewinds, the left arm will flap bouncingly.

Step 17: Cut Out the Wing Membrane

Cut the wing membrane out from a thin plastic bag* using cutter knives.
* film thickness < 0.01 mm would be better
Cut size: 300mm base and 135mm height

Step 18: Apply the Wing Membrane to the Frame

Apply thin strips of double-sided tape to the frame.
And then apply the wing membrane carefully to the frame along the tapes.

Step 19: Assembly Finished!

Assembly finished.
Bend the tail up slightly for a stable flight.
Let's take it out for test flights!

Step 20: Test Flight

Test flights can be made either in the room or outdoors(in the calm, windless condition).
Apply power by winding the crank up about thirty to fifty times.
Hold the plane by your fingers horizontally, and push it off slightly upward.
If the plane dive straight to the ground, bend the tail up more or simply launch the plane upward.
If it turns sharp to right of left, bend the opposite side of the wing chip slightly backward.

Step 21: Some Hints of Hacking the Pants 1: Painting / Marking

Painting or marking on the wing is fun!
Colorful marker pens would be suited to the job.
Create your original pants.

Step 22: Some Hints of Hacking the Pants 2: Weight Reduction

You can upgrade the wing arms by carbon rods*.
The weight is dramatically reduced to under 2.0 grams and you can enjoy longer flight time.
* 0.7mm dia 140mm long size * 2

Step 23: About Author:

Yusuke Takahashi (Flappingwing)

Location: Osaka, Japan
A founder of The Flapping Wing Factory
Personally engaged in the development of small
ornithopters for 10 years.
Member / operating staff of Fablab Kitakagaya

Thank you viewing my instruction!

Step 24:


rockerape made it!(author)2014-05-24

Insane in the membrane.

gowtham02 made it!(author)2014-03-25


Thankyou for providing the stl. It was really a nice instructable. Instead of rubber, can we connect a small motor (the one which will be in cell phones) if yes, any thoughts for the feasibility and ideas please..

Thank you again.

Flappingwing made it!(author)2014-03-30

Hello gowtham02

Thank you for your comment. I have developped several motorized ornithopters.

You can see the articles in my blog:

In orders to motorize the Flying Pants, some design modifications would be necessary, but it would be surely posssible.

gowtham02 made it!(author)2014-04-05


thank you for your kind answer. I uploaded the parts I printed. But I am not able to fly it because the crank is always getting jammed. Am I doing something wrong? please advice. or is there a problem with the rubber. I don't know what rubber you have used also. I just used a common rubber band used for the stationary. I still did not attached the plastic wrapper on the wings. Once I feel the wings flapping then I will attach the

The website you added has all Japanese language. do you have one in English please. I watched one of your radio controlled ornithopter in youtube which was marvellous. can you please add an instructable so that I ll try to make one. sorry I donot know Japanese so could not understand your website. an English one would be greatly helpful.

please comment.

Thanks again.

Flappingwing made it!(author)2014-04-05

Hello gowtham02

Thank you very much printing my project! To avoid mulfunction, would you please try to bend the slit of the rocking arm forward slightly? I'm using a pair of No.16 office rubber bands.

I'm sorry that my web site is only offered in Japanese. I will add short summaries in English to my future articles. I will also planning to release more Instructable contents in English. Instruction manuals for RC ornithopters are prepared now and I would be able to upload one in a few days.

Thank you.


gowtham02 made it!(author)2014-04-06

Thank you very much for your kind reply. What is the "two sided tape" you used to stick the polythene paper to the plane. Because I didn't find that here in India. Is there any alternate way that we can stick the polythene paper to the wings and tail.

I am eagerly waiting for your instructables on RC ornithopter. I browsed through your works in Youtube and your are doing a great job. Is that your job or is it your personal interest?

Great job and keep inspiring us. thank you.


Flappingwing made it!(author)2014-04-06

Hello gowtham02

Double-sided bonding tapes are offered by 3M or other manufacturers:

Several products are sold in Japan as stationaries, not special. Also sticky pressure sensitive adhesives would be OK.

I am not professional but I design these ornithopters only for fun.

Thank you.


s55 made it!(author)2014-04-04

built this. was awesome.

Smartguydude made it!(author)2014-03-31


Azzurro made it!(author)2014-03-28

I dream of a DIY page where "3D print" and "laser cut" don't exist.

clazman made it!(author)2014-03-27

Nice job!. I still do not understand how you can discuss weight
reduction when there is no stress analysis discussion to locate those
areas where material can be removed (low stress). In the same manner,
locate those areas where, unfortunately, material has to be added. Why?
Visual inspection of this design reveals areas of material waste, a
weight penalty. On the brighter side, I do notice that some structural
analysis has been utilized.

samalert made it!(author)2014-03-23

I am very fond of 3d printing and i really love them, i have read watched many videos of ornithopter, the motion the flight oh my takes my breath away. They always amaze me.But damn these 3d printers are not very common in India. Saddens me :(

bezo88 made it!(author)2014-03-24

3d printers are not very common in South Africa . It saddens me too:-(

lumi3005 made it!(author)2014-03-25

There are descriptions how to build your own 3D printer. Even if they are not available in your country you might be able to buy all the parts and build one. Many of my friends did that and saved lots of money.

lumi3005 made it!(author)2014-03-25

That's incredible simple. Well done. If I have time tomorrow I will print one and try it by myselfes.

bricobart made it!(author)2014-03-23

Can't wait to try this, great I'ble!!!

Kiteman made it!(author)2014-03-22

I like the simplification of the crank by just flapping one wing.

Any chance of embedding a video of one in flight?

adamwatters made it!(author)2014-03-22

really incredible!

kiteman - here's a video from flappingwing's youtube -

Kiteman made it!(author)2014-03-22

Cool, thanks.

Flappingwing made it!(author)2014-03-22

Hello Kiteman and adamwatters,

There are some more videos available on YouTube:

They show SLS printed version. Thank you.

tcunningham5 made it!(author)2014-03-22

thingiverse has had one almost identical to this on for over a year

The+Pencil+Guy made it!(author)2014-03-22

Is that seriously possible?
JK, amazing i'ble!

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