Rockets and 3D printing go together. Like NASA and missions to space. Or hobbyists and very ambitious backyard flight plans. From RC airplanes to utilitarian drones, to rockets bound for the moon, we cover countless stories on every level as those interested in space are also interested in using the new technology to get there–better, faster, and more affordably. From taking flight to taking off into orbit, new technology is allowing everyone to create things previously unimaginable–and not possible.
On the experimental and hobbyist levels, there’s no better way to relax from the rigors of work and the busy momentum of life in general than to send an airplane soaring or firing off a rocket. Those who endeavor to do so are generally very passionate about their craft, and that’s certainly the case at XAIR-Robotics, where they function as a research organization and robotics company working to make experimental solutions and products for aerospace and technology.
“We live for innovation and we’re working towards building the first personal launch vehicles and electric aircraft through our unique approach to research and development,” states Alex Kuehn, who founded the company in 2014.
Their latest ‘first’ should garner attention from all who are interested in making rockets, as they have now made and tested the first 3D printed solid fuel rocket engine. It’s a reusable design as well, and while they are still refining it for public consumption in terms of sales, the XAIR team is pretty excited about their most recent innovation.
“The engine has been a culmination of over nine months of testing and design iteration across numerous prototypes–this is actually our third 3D printed variant of the engine–and we have finally achieved reusability; though the design will need further refinement to be optimized before we release the production version for sale to the hobbyist and rocket enthusiast community,” Kuehn told 3DPrint.com.
Firing their new rocket into the air for the first time last month, the team at XAIR has since set it off five more times, and has then continued to work with the design. Made of stainless steel, this recreational 3D printed piece is a Class 1 rocket motor, and according to the XAIR website is the largest one can fly without FAA approval. They state that it is 97% more economical to fly than the usual hobby motor.
The rocket will still be in a testing program over the next weeks, but the team has reached a major milestone with this project, as they point out–furthering XAIR’s quest for making strides in rocket propulsion as well as saving on the bottom line. Meant for hobbyists to enjoy, this rocket will open up a new world of design ideas–as well as offering features like a longer burn time and manageable thrust levels.
Solid-fuel engines continue to be a source of interest in the amateur enthusiast realm, but creating these types of rockets is no small feat, requiring skill in mechanics, chemistry, dynamics and more. XAIR Robotics also works in the areas of creating launch vehicles and atmospheric satellites. Let’s hear your thoughts on this 3D printed engine in the XAIR Robotics Forum thread on 3DPB.com.