Steve Jurvetson is a man of many facets – and he can 3D print a rocket that achieves Mach 1.8 (that’s 1,363 mph) in 2.6 seconds and reach an altitude of nearly 9,500 feet.
The Mach number is named after the Austrian physicist and philosopher, Ernst Mach. The terms “subsonic” and “supersonic” basically refer to speeds below and above the local speed of sound, so you should have some idea how fast these tiny rockets are traveling.
Jurvetson is a partner and managing director at Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a venture capital firm, and his board responsibilities include projects like SpaceX, Synthetic Genomics, and Tesla Motors. He was also a founding venture capital investor in Hotmail, led DFJ’s investments in companies acquired for $12 billion in aggregate, and he was an R&D Engineer at Hewlett-Packard. His technical experiences include programming, materials science research, and computer design at HP’s PC Division, the Center for Materials Research, and Mostek.
Jurvetson is one of the most successful venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and an avid rocket maker who regularly travels to Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to launch his latest vehicles.
He’s also enamored of the power of 3D printing, and now he’s giving you the keys to the kingdom to 3D print your own version of the 38mm and 29mm minimum-diameter airframes that will let you send a rocket into space – for under $10. Jurvetson says the total assembly time for these baby aerospace marvels is around 10 minutes after a night of 3D printing.
“We estimate the total cost (of the 3D printing) materials and energy – to be about $1.82,” Jurvetson says. “It’s incredibly strong. It did survive a Mach 1.9 flight straight off a MakerBot.”
So how does Jurvetson recover the rockets after a successful flight?
“I gave up on finding them,” he says. “In fact, I just put my cellphone number on them, and I’ve gotten them all back. One-hundred percent. Four launches, four out of four. Someone else does the recovery.”
He adds that a golf course superintendent was one of the people who recovered a rocket after a flight, and that he wasn’t at all perturbed that it landed on his course as he returned the rocket. Jurvetson says the print requires 0% fill, normal speed printing, with rafts, and that he tapes a golf ball to the top as a free nose cone and balance weight. He adds that he uses extra epoxy to “lather” the fins for a smooth finish and extra strength.
The launch rod lugs, rail guides and fin fillets for the rockets are built into the print file, and the rockets are powered by single use Aerotech motors like the J270, I140 and I280 to go supersonic. To get the single use Aerotech motors, you must have a Level 1 or Level 2 certification in rocketry.
Have you ever used 3D printing to design parts for rocketry? Let us hear about your experiences in the 3D Printed Rocket forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below of Jervetson discussing how 3D printing is enabling a whole new group of individuals to explore rocketry.
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