Independence Day is celebrated this weekend, and many people will be hearing the lines from the “Star Spangled Banner”: “And the rockets red glare…” For this story, maybe we should amend this verse to say, “And the 3D printed rockets red glare…” A UK-based maker and hackerspace regular named Damian Axford, who “tinkers with all kinds of projects from robotics to quadcopters,” has 3D printed some awesome model rockets fueled by air compression. His idea grew from loving model rockets as a child, and he wanted to share that experience with his own children — ages five and seven. He’s done this and more with his more technologically updated and 3D printed model rockets that can fly a couple of hundred feet on B-class engines.
These rocket designs are done in OpenSCAD, so they are compatible with Thingiverse Customizer, with fairly straightforward code layout that has different modules for the various rocket sections. Axford described the design in an email interview with 3Dprint.com:
“The rocket design itself is very simple, and based on the most common/basic rocket kits around. The fin can holds the rocket motor inside an inner tube, and a tie point for a shock cord. The body, payload and nose cone fit together with simple friction couplings.”
One great feature of Axford’s rocket design is its limitless parameters for tweaking; he reports that so far he has created six design variations using this software. Most of each of the rocket section’s parameters can be altered (such as the height of sections, the number of fins, and the diameter) and he “plans to add more design variants in the future… like pop-out glider wings and/or a helicopter recovery system.”
Now we know more about the customized potential of his rocket design, but how does it actually fly? As Axford explained, the rocket motor is held inside an inner tube in the fin, using a tie point for a shock cord. You simply insert an engine, add igniter, and fire:
“I use a simple launch pad, some long wires and any spare LIPO battery to launch. You obviously need to be careful around rockets, but if handled correctly, they’re extremely safe. I buy Estes motors/igniters from local hobby suppliers – they’re not very expensive, especially if you buy in reasonable quantities. There are also model rocket organizations in most countries who organize flying/build meets, etc.”
Compressed air from a cheap garden pressure sprayer hose with the spray tip removed is used for firing. As you can see by the below video filmed on June 7, 2015, the rockets can get some serious distance in while making an awesome launching sound.
So, if you’ve been looking for unique ways to commemorate the holiday weekend with or without children, head on over to Thingiverse to check out Axford’s customizable 3D printed model rockets! You won’t regret it. Let us know your thoughts on these designs in the 3D Printed Rocket forum thread on 3DPB.com.