While this list does not contain every possible material which can be used in your DIY project, it does include the more popular/budget-friendly ones. With that being said, let’s see what they are!
If you’re trying to build a drone as cheaply as possible, then consider using a wooden frame. Wood isn’t the most aesthetically appealing option out there, but it’s certainly one of the most inexpensive. One reason why I love wooden frames is because if something breaks, you can quickly and easily replace it. If you’re going to use wood for your drone’s frame, then make sure that it doesn’t have any areas that are warped or twisted.
If you can afford it, I would highly recommend building your frame out of carbon fiber. The reason why is simple: carbon fiber is very tough and extremely lightweight. It’s this combination that will make your RC drone fly better and consume less energy. Remember that carbon fiber impedes RF signals (you’ll learn about these later), so make sure that you keep this in mind when you’re mounting important electronic components (like an antenna for example).
Also known as “Printed Circuit Board”, this is a type of material that shares the same basic structure and properties as fiberglass. Unlike fiberglass, PCD is always flat. Frames that are less than 600mm in size typically use PCB for the bottom and top plates. In fact, small quadcopter frames can be built entirely from a single printed circuit board. Click here to learn more about printed circuit boards and how they work.
Most commercial RC drones that you buy today come with plastic frames. 3D printed molded plastic frames have become an incredibly popular amongst DIY drone enthusiasts. Generally, using a 3D printer to create a perfectly shaped plastic frame is something that only works on smaller drones. When using plastic sheets (not 3D printed shapes or objects), you can strategically use them on your landing gear or for the cover of your drone.
Epoxy-LaminateG10 is a variation of fiberglass that’s often used as a less expensive alternative to carbon fiber. From the outside, G10 and carbon fiber look almost identical, but they do vary slightly in their basic properties. You can purchase G10 in sheet format. As far as pricing is concerned, it costs less than carbon fiber but is still more expensive than wood, aluminum, or plastic. Here’s a really useful forum post I found on the major differences between G10 and regular fiberglass.
Aluminum can also be used when building your frame. It’s lightweight (though not as lightweight as carbon fiber), flexible, and is relatively easy to work with. You can use aluminum to build the entire frame, or simply use the material to supplement certain parts of the frame (arms, landing gear, etc.). Another benefit to aluminum frames is that this type of material is both inexpensive as well as readily accessible.