My husband is a carpenter, and every time he gets a new tool, he takes the box and turns it into some sort of playhouse or accessory (mailbox, dresser, etc.) for our children’s cardboard-opolis. However, after hearing about what this grandfather did for his grandson, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask my husband to up his game.
Chris Knowlton, clear front runner for the Grandfather of the Year award, decided to create a rocket playhouse for his grandson. This wasn’t to be some corrugated confection, however. Instead, he used his 3D printing skills to create a rocket ship that was just the right size for a two-year-old. Having decided on going that far, there was no point in stopping himself before he had also create a pair of diminutive astronaut companions and a moon rover vehicle for, well, roving the moon.
Knowlton explained his idea in a straightforward manner:
“My plan was to make an open-sided rocket, a moon rover vehicle with trailers, and enough supply items so that my little two-year-old astronaut can stock the spaceship for a pretend flight into space and then explore the new worlds in the moon rover.”
For those of you prepared to respond with nostalgic stories of a childhood filled with only sticks and rocks to play with, point taken, but hold your horses. Remember that every generation complains about the luxury of the next and that, sometimes, it’s best not to take everything so seriously. After all, this isn’t just some piece of plastic junk to be added to the pile of kiddie litter. This was as much playtime for Grandpa as it will be for Benjamin.
The rocketship stands nearly two feet tall and, together with the moon rover and accessories, is composed of 195 separate parts. The time invested in the printing process alone exceeds 300 hours, not to mention those spent on design. It wasn’t until after he had designed and created some of the parts that Knowlton invested in Simplify3D software to aid him in the project.
“Like everyone else, I was trying free slicer and host software, but none of them provided me with the control I felt was necessary to print parts at the highest level of quality. After getting Simplyify3D, the difference in print quality was incredible.”
So, he tossed the pieces that he had already made and started from scratch. Using Autodesk Inventor, he designed everything with the exception of the two astronaut figures. The three story ship provides the perfect atmosphere for these plastic-nauts to travel in style, complete with beds, a radar screen, flight control panel, computer cabinet, and moonscape viewer. Not one to overlook the practical, Knowlton also created oxygen tanks and containers for food, water, and other travel necessities.
This toy is meant to be used and abused in the way that only a small child can. Knowlton tweaked the settings in Simplify3D so that he could print the parts with a durable three layer shell made up of five solid layers on the bottom and seven solid layers on the top. Once the design was up to his standards, it was created with ABS filament on a Printerbot Simple Metal 3D printer.
Now it’s up to two-year-old Benjamin to supply the final piece of the puzzle that will turn this creation from a model into an active space exploration system: his imagination. What are your thoughts on this creation? Discuss in the 3D Printed Rocket Ship forum thread on 3DPB.com.