Jan 26, 2015 | By Simon

Perhaps inspired by SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk’s use of high-grade 3D laser metal printing for aiding in the creation of space-bound rockets, it appears that more 3D printing hobbyists have been actively pursuing their own rocketry-inspired projects, too.

More recently, José Miraglia, an aerospace engineer and professor at Brazil’s FIAP school, has designed a competition to introduce his students to the world of 3D printing.  The space-inspired competition, SpaceCup, features a total of 200 of the school’s students representing the computer engineering and information systems programs.

The rockets, which are 100% 3D printed according to Miraglia, are printed using an UP 2 Plus fused deposition modeling (FDM) desktop 3D printer with ABS plastic. In total, 70 rockets were made by the 200 students using a combination of SolidWorks for developing the final 3D printed designs and Open Rocket software for simulating the designs during the development process.  

For the students from the information systems programs, all of the rockets were created equally by Miraglia... however the challenge for the students was to change the mass of the rocket to improve upon the flight’s performance.  Each rocket featured an installed altimeter and the students were required to develop data acquisition software to collect the flight data.  For the informations systems students to win the competition, they had to reach the highest altitude and land the rocket the closest to a specified target... similar to Elon Musk’s recent sea barge landing attempt.

The engineering students on the other hand had a slightly different challenge.  As opposed to using a pre-designed rocket by Miraglia, the students were responsible for both the production of the rocket design as well as the computing.  The rockets were first designed with a fluid mechanics approach to study flight and aerodynamics in Open Rocket, and then developed in SolidWorks for 3D printing of the final rocket design.  Under this approach, all of the rocket designs from the engineering students were different.  

According to Miraglia, the average printing time of each rocket was one hour and thirty minutes while the average mass of ABS plastic per rocket was 37 grams.  The students used two printers to produce the fleet of rockets with printing layers set at .3mm in order to speed up the production process.  In total, it took 10 days to produce all 70 of the 3D printed rocket designs that Miraglia explained, “were amazing”.  

Once the rocket housings were 3D printed, class C rocket engines that use a solid propellant from the Brazilian company Bandeirantes were installed.  Miraglia compares these engines to the more common class c rocket engines sold by Estes rockets, which can reach 350 meters altitude and speeds of 300 km/h.

As for who won the Space Cup?

In first place for the information systems group came the MPX Group, while the engineering standings had the MAGMA Group in first, the UFO Group in second and the VGJ Group in third, respectfully.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Gabriel wrote at 1/27/2015 3:47:20 PM:

Awesome!As FIAP's student, i'm happy to see our project here!Thanks!!!

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