Instructables

Rockit: 3D-Printed Model Rocket Construction Kit

Featured
Picture of Rockit: 3D-Printed Model Rocket Construction Kit
blastoff.jpg
example_launch.png
two_stage_launch.png

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.

Model Rocket Safety Code

 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up
rf4 months ago

Cool stuff. Still following traditional, hand built, model rocketry mechanics though.

I'll bet there are many other innovative ways to affect recovery systems, for instance, other than tube-in-tube ejections. Other interesting ways to connect various parts too.

vishnubob (author)  rf4 months ago

Hi rf. I like the way you think! It would be awesome if you used Rockit (or any other design software) to explore some of the ideas you have and share your results.

jmattingly4 months ago

Very nifty. I've printed rockets before and they have been very popular at the launches I've taken them to. One thing you have to be really careful of (your video as an example) is weighting and stability. I've found that since PLA is so good, you often will have to print huge fins or filled nosecones to maintain stability. That said, 3D printing is an awesome way to pump out rockets with unique designs and really push the envelope.

vishnubob (author)  jmattingly4 months ago

Hi jmattingly, you are absolutely correct. The reason I wrote this toolkit was to explore programmatic CAD. To enable software driven design and simulation, I want to connect this work to OpenRocket (http://openrocket.sourceforge.net/). It would be awesome if you could just "print" your rockets.

As an aside, I think there is a lot of potential for teaching science and engineering to kids using a toolchain like this. By adding a sensor payload, for example, students could clearly compare the performance characteristics of similar rocket designs.

I'm hopeful people will help me with this project. I could use ideas, enhancements, new designs, sophisticated design rules, bugfixes, documentation, experiences using it, etc. Please check out the GitHub page and let me know if you have any questions.