Tripodmaker Sends 3D Printed Beloved Belgian Comic Book Rocket to the Stratosphere to Celebrate New 3D Printer Launch

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3D printed rockets seem to be all the rage now: aviation students from Inholland University perfected their 3D printed rockets with the help of an Ultimaker 2+, and CubeCab wants to send multiple CubeSats into space on a small, 3D printed rocket that’s attached to an F-104. Belgian 3D printing company Tripodmaker wanted to celebrate the launch of its newest generation FDM 3D printer, the Black Edition V2, with a 3D printed rocket launch of its own. But this rocket is a little different than the ones normally sent up into space.

Pieter-Jan Vandendriessche, the founder of Tripodmaker, said, “For the release of our latest FDM printer, we wanted to do something remarkable. A quick research revealed that only NASA has conquered space so far with 3D printing. We wanted to change this.”

Tripod got its start in 2014, and mainly sells its products, like cloud-based Prisma slicer software platform and high-grade Spectra filament, in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The 3D printed rocket that the company launched into the atmosphere was none other than the iconic red and white rocket seen in the famous comic book series “The Adventures of TinTin,” written by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. Tripodmaker’s decision to use the TinTin rocket makes a lot of sense, considering both the company and the comic book originated in Belgium.

“We always wanted to inspire people and make them think outside the box,” Vandendriessche told 3DPrint.com. “Very similar like Hergé with his comic books and his iconic rocket he designed back in year 1953. Seeing that rocket, now over 60 years old, in real space was somehow something that we thought people would blow their minds.”

Since the 3D printed TinTin rocket is not an actual working device, Tripodmaker attached it to a weather balloon, filled with over 2,000 liters of helium, and sent it up to an altitude of 30 km. The total payload was around 1.2 kg, and since helium is lighter than air, 1 liter of helium can lift 1 gram of payload, so the rocket-toting balloon had no trouble reaching its specified height.

As gravity drops away, so too does the air pressure: at a 30 km altitude, the air pressure in the stratosphere is less than half of the original air pressure at sea level, and so the balloon expands. The descent begins when the balloon is stretched too far and bursts. From takeoff to landing, the whole flight took about four hours.


A camera attached to the balloon shot footage during the flight, and made it safely back to Earth via parachute landing. A GPS device allowed Tripodmaker to track the camera’s specific landing site, which was a good thing, as it landed almost 200 km away from the original launch site.

“We found our space module in an open field and were quite lucky that is was not in a tree, on the road, or on a roof of a building. Finding it back was the most exciting part,” said Vandendriessche.

The TinTin rocket was obviously 3D printed on the company’s new Black Edition V2, which is an upgrade to its earlier Black Edition. Tripodmaker’s Black Edition series of 3D printers are robust, reliable, and easy to use.

Black Edition V2

The Black Edition V2, which costs €1499 including VAT, has a redesigned print head and new mechanics, which give the printed parts an even smoother surface finish. The printer comes with a new spool holder design, which takes both sizes of spools, and has an improved cooling system, which gives 3D printed parts more dramatic bridges and hangovers, and no stringing. Its improved blower fan pushes out ten times more air than standard fans.

The printer’s build platform is 20 cm in diameter, and it’s capable of 3D printing objects up to 42 cm high. It comes with dedicated Prisma slicing software, and also includes a full metal hot-end. The original Black Edition 3D printer had optional transparent doors, but the doors now come standard with the high-resolution Black Edition V2.

The Black Edition V2 is currently available for purchase on Tripodmaker’s website, and you can also request a free sample if you’re trying to compare printers. Discuss in the Tripodmaker forum at 3DPB.com.

 

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