If you’re a teacher, this project is a great vehicle for teaching students some of the principles of science and design thinking. More specifically, designing a rocket can be a great way to encourage students to gain a better understanding of the effects of friction. For a video on the topic of friction within design thinking, see the video below. You can also find a complete lesson plan devoted to these topics, as well as instructional materials such as learning objectives, test materials, and evaluation rubrics here.
Step 1: Download Autodesk 123D Design
Step 2: Model Your Rocket
Using the Spline tool, draw one curved line connecting the 3 open points. (Note: The more control points you set while using the spline tool, the easier it is to adjust in the future if you need to.) The top of the nose shouldn’t come to a perfect point, but should almost flatten out.
This should create two separate, closed profiles (the nose and the rest of the body). If necessary, adjust the curve by zooming in and moving the control points you set on the spline. For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see below.
Step 3: Revolve Profiles
Now, hide sketches. With your rocket body largely designed, add materials to make it start looking that way! You can choose metals or plastics in a number of colors by simply selecting faces, choosing a material, and applying it. For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see below.
Step 4: Design the Supports
To give the support some thickness, select Extrude, and extrude the support the same distance in both directions. Use Modify>Fillet to round off all the sharp edges.
Hide the sketches and turn on the solids to see the rocket body with 1 support. Using the Circular Pattern tool, select the one support you designed, and use the circle at the base of your rocket body as the axis. Increase the number to the number of desired supports to create duplicates of the support.
Add material by selecting all the supports, choosing a material, and assigning it. For a step-by-step video tutorial on this stage, see below.
Step 5: Print!
You will also need to download and install the latest version of the Makerware™ software from MakerBot. The software is free of charge and can be downloaded here.
Once a part has been created and is ready for printing you can select 3D Print option from the 123D Menu. This will bring up the 3D printer dialog where you can select your printer and options for printing.
After setting up your printer options, you will be given the choice to save as a .stl file or send directly to the Makerware software for printing.
If your printer is not listed in the Autodesk 3D Print Utility, you can still export to a .stl file directly. This will allow you to use any software your printer requires. This can be done by selecting the Export STL option from the 123D Design menu.
Lastly, if you don’t have a 3D printer, places like TechShop have the tools to turn your design files into physical objects, and staff the people who can show you how. Places like Shapeways can even print them for you.