“For the release of our latest FDM printer, we wanted to do something remarkable” says Pieter-Jan Vandendriessche, founder of Tripodmaker. “A quick research revealed that only NASA has conquered space so far with 3D printing. We wanted to change this.”
A weather balloon filled up with over 2000 liters of Helium, took a 3D printed rocket to an altitude of 30 km in less then 2 hours. Helium is way lighter than air, and about 1 liter of helium can lift 1 gram of payload. The total payload was about 1,2 kg, but the additional helium added extra lift to get the balloon at the specific height in no time.
When the balloon goes up, the air pressure drops as gravity drops away because of the distance to the earth. In the stratosphere, at an altitude of 30 km, the air pressure is less then 50% of the original air pressure at sea level. This causes the balloon to expand. Eventually, when stretched too far, the balloon bursts. At that point, the decent begins.
Not just some random rocket was launched into space. It was the rocket from the famous comic book character TinTin, written by Hergé. An obvious choice, knowing both TinTin and Tripodmaker are Belgian. A great time-lapse video was created during the printing process of the rocket.
During the flight, footage was shot. A parachute brought back the camera down safely. It landed nearly 200km away from the launch site. A GPS device connected to the mobile network allowed tracking back the specific location of the camera.
In total, the flight took about 4 hours from take off to landing.
“We found our space module in an open field and were quite lucky that is was not in a tree, on the road, or on a roof of a building”, explains Pieter-Jan. “Finding it back was the most exciting part.”
The rocket was printed with the newest generation of Tripodmaker 3D printers. The Black Edition V2, is an upgrade of the earlier Tripodmaker Black Edition and costs €1,499 including VAT. The Black Edition series printers of Tripodmaker focus on ease of use, reliability and robustness. The Black Edition V2 comes with a completely redesigned print head and brand new mechanics.
According to the manufacturer, the improved cooling allows the 3d printed parts to come with more dramatic hangovers and bridges. The new blower fan just cools the printed part more directly and precisely at the tip of the nozzle. With this new cooling set-up, stringing is a thing from the past.
The V2 comes with a full metal hot-end and a powerful heated bed. Transparent doors are also included and are no longer an optional feature when compared with the original Tripodmaker Black Edition. The new mechanics also allow an even smoother surface finish of the printed parts. Next to that, a new spool holder design can take small and big spools.
In general, looking at the specifications, the Tripodmaker V2 is a price worthy machine. It is a robust good-looking device that comes with dedicated slicer software.