No doubt, the jetpack is something to be expected at CES. An iconic example of futuristic technology which has persisted for decades, the concept of flying independently via electronic pack is one that seems almost too good to be true. And for the most part it has been–with the exception of use in space, where astronauts have been able to use the scaled down rocket science for maneuvering outside of their main ship.
This is undoubtedly a strong partnership for creating such technology as JetPack Aviation is known as the company behind creating a previous machine called the RocketBelt, seen at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games opening ceremony, as well as in film many times. Airwolf 3D is known for the creation of fast, high-quality 3D printers, as well as manufacturing high-performance consumables and accessories.
While in testing, the JetPack J-9 so far has only been able to stay in the air for ten minutes, but the creators do indeed see it as a viable type of transportation–and now entirely possible due to 3D printing. Its 3D printed components will be on display today at CES 2016 in Las Vegas. Attendees will be able to see what is making this new device possible, with a compact and lightweight construction that is still powerful enough to get someone off the ground with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL). The JetPack can take you to 10,000 feet and go up to 100 mph–and after you’ve planted yourself safely on terra firma and are ready to head home, it packs easily in your trunk.
“We had been investigating more affordable options for rapidly prototyping our new JetPack fuel tank and teamed up with Airwolf 3D to print our tank on their AXIOM 3D printer with its large build volume” stated lead designer Nelson Tyler.
“During this time we have tested all manner of propulsion systems including pulse jets, pressure jets, micro turbines, ducted fans, etc. and only recently has turbine technology improved to the point that we have been able to build a stable and reliable craft, the JB-9 JetPack,” states the company on their website.
“Our team includes Nelson Tyler who is arguably the most experienced engineer in the personal VTOL industry and who has a long list of related inventions to his name. The whole team is dedicated to bringing a real JetPack to market and to us this means a JetPack that is powered by jet engines, can easily be carried on the pilot’s back, is VTOL capable and that can fly for an extended period–anything else cannot be considered a true JetPack.”
The JB-9’s predecessor, the RocketBelt, was powered by hydrogen peroxide fed into a silver screen catalyst pack. This new design, while inspired by the previous device, is much more complex. It has engines that must be started and cooled, the flow of fuel must be managed, and the pilot must have operating information as well. This new 3D printed prototype is the result of an enormous effort by their team to successfully design superior engine mounts, airframe, and analyze airflow.
“Airwolf 3D’s latest AXIOM 3D printer was the key enabling technology to allow us to rapidly prototype our new JetPack fuel tank prior to committing to actual tooling,” says Nelson Tyler, of JetPack Aviation.
And while the reality of the JetPack is on display at CES today, so are all the benefits of 3D printing, showing off a transportation device that offers potential for self-sustainability in the future, speed in production, high quality, lightweight components–and most of all, substantial affordability at around $400–as opposed to traditional CNC machining production and material costs between $5,000 and $12,000.
“We are thrilled to be working with JetPack Aviation to advance the future of transportation and proud that the AXIOM 3D printer was selected as the means to achieve JetPack’s rapid prototyping needs,” says Erick Wolf, CEO and founder of Airwolf 3D.
The components, which are quite large, are actually printed using ABS. Airwolf 3D employs the isothermal printing conditions of AXIOM’s chamber and then applies WolfBite adhesive in order to produce high-quality parts without any fear of cracking or deformity. The JB-9 had its first–and well-publicized–flight around the Statue of Liberty last November.
Both Airwolf 3D and JetPack Aviation are based in California. Testing of the JB-9 was carried out in Van Nuys, and then some more rural locations. Currently, they are continuing to work on better engine technology, as well as a parachute safety system capable of swift, low height deployment. Discuss this story in the 3D Printed JB-9 forum on 3DPB.com.