I loved building model rockets growing up, but if I had to be honest, I was pretty terrible at it. I would use the tools that I knew and had off hand. I built a few with a hot glue gun, but the fins would always detach mid-flight. If they did hang on, they were usually poorly aligned, and this made for some interesting flights. I never really cared much about aesthetics either, and I would spray paint the living hell out out of it with lots of gold, silver, and black. But I got better, had fun, and grew out of it.
Fast forward to now when I’m lucky enough to own an in-house 3D printer. I’ve printed a bunch of stuff, most of it was bad. I wanted to try to print more useful things, and what I learned is the more complicated the part, the more important it is to be able to configure it based on the needs of the user and the method of manufacture. There are lots of great online resources that offer free, useful, downloadable models, but most of the models are provided as .STL files, which makes them too low in the render chain to manipulate and change effectively. Designing in CAD is great, but these systems tend to be heavy-weight and have flexibility issues. This toolkit is an experiment to see what can be made using light-weight, freely available tools. As a lark, I selected model rockets, never expecting it to work very well. I was totally wrong, this method works incredibly well, and with this process you can print accurate, complete, and customizable model rockets.
With a little programming know-how, you can use this project to define your own model rocket, and print it. Depending on your printer and how you print your rocket parts, you can print a complete rocket in under two hours. All you have to do is is snap it together, add an engine, and off you go.
These rockets are experimental. It is extremely important that you proceed safely and with the correct supervision. Experimental rockets are dangerous and they can maim or kill you or the ones you love. Please proceed with caution.