This paper presents the results of exploratory studies for facilitating the direct use of 3D printed parts in design and development of micro aerial vehicles (MAV). 3D printing processes of stereolithography and fused deposition modeling are investigated as the candidate prototyping options. Custom developed electro-chemical and mechanical processes are used to deposit thin structural nickel coatings on 3D printed test specimens and MAV parts. Residual stress and mechanical strength of coated 3D printed specimens are evaluated through experimental methods. Considerable improvement is realized in tensile and impact performance of the coated 3D printed parts. Findings from this study enable the MAV research teams to work with multiple design options and arrive at optimal solutions without severe time and cost penalties that are typically associated with conventional manufacturing procedures.