Ryan Callahan is a fan of IC3D 3mm ABS filament, and IC3D is a fan of the San Diego State University Rocket Program. Callan, Design Lead on the program, reached out to us recently to let us know how 3D printing helps his team throughout their design process.

A notable application of 3D printing is our thrust vectoring gimbal prototype.  This is a huge project we are taking on in the future and 3D printing makes it super convenient for us to throw together proof-of-concept systems on the fly. I can’t describe how much of an advantage it is to be able to model physical systems like this for pennies on the dollar.

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The San Diego State University Rocket Project is a student-led organization that aims to gain real world engineering experience by designing, building, and launching liquid-fueled rockets. 3D printing makes producing large numbers of unique parts a reality for the group.

With a goal of building one functioning rocket per academic year, they plan a propulsion system test at the end of each fall semester and a complete system launch in the spring. Although the launch vehicle is theoretically reusable, they are building a completely new rocket this time around. While staying on schedule doesn’t usually present a problem for these ambitious engineers, they do have to stay focused to reach their goals.

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By refining technology and improving practices, the SDSU Rocket Project has launched six rockets with an increase in reliability, altitude, and size during each consecutive launch. The group plans to explore higher altitudes this year by developing a thrust vectoring system and hopes to reach 30,000 feet or higher.

The SDSU Rocket Project team uses a 3D printed antenna gun to receive information while the rocket is in flight. Callan notes, “The ‘yagi gun’ was a large 3D printing project.  It doesn’t shoot anything, it’s just a fun way to keep an antenna pointed at the rocket.”

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While the group is comprised of rocket scientists, their diverse backgrounds, various interests, and assorted personal interests come together beautifully to show what they, as students, are capable of. The members share a passion for building, making, creating, and experimenting that shows throughout their process and in their finished product. Students gain valuable hands-on experience while encouraging a passion for engineering in others.

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In the spirit of seeding interest in engineering, members of the SDSU Rocket Program consistently seek opportunities to tell their story. The group has been featured in Make magazine, CBS8 San Diego, and Discovery Channel Canada’s Daily Planet television series.

Stay tuned for a progress report on the San Diego State University Rocket Program launch set for this spring. IC3D is a project sponsor, and we just can’t wait to see how our logo looks as it speeds toward 30,000 feet.

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Here at IC3D, we love to encourage and support makers, builders, tinkers, and innovative creators. Reach out and let us know what you are printing with our filament and we may feature your project in our IC3D Maker Spotlight series. For more information about 3D printing, go ahead and contact us any time.

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