Experimenting With 3D Printed Rocket Nozzles

Rocketry is an exacting science, involving a wide variety of disciplines, encompassing everything from fluid mechanics to thermodynamics and materials engineering. As complex as it sounds, that doesn’t mean it’s beyond the purview of the average maker. [Sciencish] demonstrates this with a series of experiments on rocket nozzles in the home lab. (Video, embedded below.)

The video starts with an amusing analogy about nozzle design based on people fleeing a bad pizza. From there, [Sciencish] 3D prints a wide variety of nozzle designs for testing. The traditional bell nozzle is there, of course, along with the familiar toroidal and linear aerospikes and an expansion deflection design. Of course, 3D printing makes it easy to try out fun, oddball geometries, so there’s also a cowbell nozzle , along with the fancy looking square and triangular aerospikes too. Testing involves running the nozzles on a test stand instrumented with a load cell. A soda bottle is filled with rubbing alcohol vapour, and the mixture is ignited, with each nozzle graded on its thrust output. The rockets are later flown outside, reaching heights over 40 feet.

[Sciencish] notes that the results are a rough guide only, as the fuel/air mixture was poorly controlled. Despite this, it’s a great look at nozzle design and all the science involved. It also wouldn’t be too hard to introduce a little more rigour and get more accurate data, either. However, if solid fuels are more your jam, consider brewing up some rocket candy instead.

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3D Printed Rockets Are A Gas

We’ve probably all made matchstick rockets as kids. And around here anything that even vaguely looks like a rocket will get some imaginary flight time. But [austiwawa] is making some really cool 3D printed rockets that use common CO2 cartridges as a propellant. You can see them in action in the video below.

You might think just sticking a CO2 cylinder in a 3D printed jacket isn’t such a big deal, but [austiwawa] really went the extra mile. He read up on how to make the rocket stable (by manipulating the center of gravity versus the center of pressure) and explains what he had to do to get the rockets flying like you’d expect.

In addition, the launch tube is pretty interesting. A 3D printed part holds a sharp point and a spring. You lock the spring and when released it punches a clean hole in the propellant casing. The actual tube is a long piece of PVC pipe. From the video, it looks like these little rockets fly pretty high.

Judging from the video, the rocket body and launcher came from TinkerCAD. The way [austiwawa] put the fins on was both simple and clever.

Of course, you could also use Coke and propane, if you like. We’ve also seen some pretty cool setups with compressed air. Check out the rockets in action after the break,

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