Picture of 3D Print flying model rockets

3D printing offers new creativity in the world of model rocket design and fabrication. 
Above is a computer model of some printed flying model rocket.  

In these instructions I will take you thru steps needed to make really cool flying rockets.


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Step 1: What you need

Things that you need.

  • A 3D computer design program.
  • A source for 3D printing.
  • Model rocket simulation software.

Some things to remember.

  • Model rockets must be lightweight.
  • Model rockets must be stable when they fly.
  • Model rockets must be safely returned to earth.

There is a great wealth of information available on the internet about model rocketry.  In general commercially available model rocket engines are available at hobby stores and thru the internet.  These engines come in a variety of sizes and powers. 

In this case I am working with a standard size 18mm x 70mm engine, but don't let that limit you.

If you are new to model rockets, please download: 
http://www2.estesrockets.com/pdf/1948MRST.pdf  for a teaching document.

Step 2: Initial design

Picture of Initial design
 In generally a rocket has a nose cone, a body, and a tail fin section. 
The nose cone usually ejects with the recovery system, commonly a parachute.

Here I show the development of the printable rocket starting with a very basic concept.

In version one of the rocket, I added a combustion chamber, nozzle, and payload section with a rounded nose. 
In version 2, I wanted the combustion chamber to stand out more so I changed the fins, and added the fuel chamber and pipes.  Raising the fins relative to the motor lowered the center of gravity (CG). 
This made the rocket marginally stable.  To raise the CG (increased stability) I thinned and lengthen the rocket arriving at the final version 3.  

Remember the CG must be above the center of pressure (CP)  in order for the rocket to be stable.


chubby88 months ago
Great work !
You should start designing a multistage rocket, and aim for 1km+ altitude. Finding the pieces afterward may be near impossible but I think it would be worth it.

You could print a scale model of the Saturn V rocket :O . Too cool ...

NASA follow your instructables? :P http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/august/sparks-fly-as-nasa-pushes-the-limits-of-3-d-printing-technology/

m.hutchinson12 months ago

Rather than using a paperclip, which will fail quickly, there is a better option that won't cost at all. Most automotive windshield wipers/inserts have a flat spring steel strap that can be removed, and bent to the proper shape. Hang out at any auto repair/gas station/auto parts store, and you'll find dozens in the garbage. Estes B & C (18mm diameter) motors are 2.75" long, so a 3.5" length is all that is needed. You can make five clips out of the typical 20 inch long wiper... Nice instructable, BTW!

logwet1 year ago
what do you mean by a moter? a electric moter or something i have never heard of?
I would guess he means a rocket motor. It's not really a motor. It's more fuel.
jcduplessis2 years ago
Great instructable! Thanks for the effort!
Qsilverrdc (author) 2 years ago
Thanks for the complements.
FoamboardRC2 years ago
Dude this is way too cool! Once I get a 3D printer I'll come back and here for some rocket designs :D
danm_daniel2 years ago
amazing work, i'm blown away!