I was part of a team at DesignSpark, tasked with sending a Superman figurine to Space in a SpacePod, then have him 'jump out' of the pod and free-fall back to earth. I was responsible for making a SpacePod capable of surviving the assent (-40C, wind, rain, cosmic radiation), and ensuring that the 4K cameras and GPS equipment all survived the 5m/s descent to Earth. (Other brave Superheros may apply).
I had recently just made a Card Rabbet Tool for making making fancy prototypes out of corrugated card... However, Card was not waterproof... luckily I realised that this tool also enabled me to work with Correx (like Corrugated Card - but made of out plastic, and therefore waterproof!). Correx also has a great strength to weight ratio and would absorb the shock of the landing. It was also cheap at ~£10/sq.m.
This Instructable starts right in at the deep-end, and give some insight into how to design something in CAD, and export it as a 'net' (2D template of a 3D form), so that it can be assembled from a sheet material. If you are new to using this tool, you may want to check this starter-guide out first. Once you have the idea, this Instructable can help you make a huge variety of forms, for prototype, architectural models, sculptures - and even Space Missions...
This SpacePod was designed in the style of Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall. Now, although this is clearly not as dare-devil as Felix/RedBull's efforts - what is amazing is the comparatively tiny cost of such a mission like this: Electronics that would have cost millions only a few decades ago are publicly available and ready to roll, from companies like Raspberry Pi [in the Sky]. It's inspiring stuff. For the full electronics low-down, read about it on the Design Spark blog, and video in Italian, here, but until you order your PCBs, do look through this Instructable and see how cheaply you can get a SpacePod together!
PS - Please vote if you think this inspired you to get more out of you favourite action figure...
UPDATE: Thanks for the votes! I appear to have made it to the finals of the formlabs competition - and bagged a super Instructables T-Shirt!
Making a 'Net' is done by taking all of the surfaces of a 3D model, and 'flattening' them onto a 2D surface. This allows you to cut the shapes out - and then re-assemble them, knowing that they will form an accurate 3D shape.
I used Sheet-Metal software to design this, but many other alternatives, such as Pepakura will work too. Print everything out (use the 'tile' or poster-print function on your printer to do this for large models like this one)
Once you have your Net, lay it down on the Correx (perhaps stick it lightly with masking tape, or better yet, use a little spray-mount) and cut around it (cutting through the paper and the Correx as you go). It may require more than one cut to get each section cut free, and take care when cutting the Correx, as the direction of the fluting can make it unpredictable when applying pressure with a craft knife.
TIP 1 - Remove your paper net, and write in permanent market on the inside what each piece is. Inside is best as a. you probably won't see it and b. if you do need to remove it - washes off with IPA.
TIP 2 - if you have used spray mount, keep your Nets/templates somewhere where they cannot touch each other (I hung mine on the back of my door). Trust me, you'll regret it if you don't have some system like this to stop it all sticking together in one big mess!
TIP 3 - If you have a symmetrical design, you can just flip the nets, saving you time on printing and preparation.