3D Printing Boosts Rocket Project for Engineering Students

University of Minnesota engineering students are readying a 3D-printed rocket engine for launch sometime later this year, with help from Proto Labs.

This cutaway view of the engine shows the cooling channel, which is one long tube that spirals down inside the wall.

David Deng, a senior aerospace engineering student at the U of M’s Twin Cities campus, is leading the extracurricular effort to design, build, and eventually fly a liquid-propellant rocket as project manager of LPRD Rocketry. The group’s name, pronounced “leopard,” is an acronym for Liquid Propellant Rocketry Design. The group includes aerospace engineering students and others studying electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and materials science.

The primary design challenges the group faced included the small overall size of the engine itself, and the need to also somehow incorporate a cooling system inside the engine.

David Deng (right), and the University of Minnesota student group LPRD Rocketry (left).

“The manufacturing of [the rocket engine] is incredibly difficult using conventional methods, especially for a very small engine,” Deng said. “The struggle was how do we [add] a single cooling channel through this entire engine, coiling around the side of it? That’s where Proto Labs came in. 3D printing is essentially the only way to get regenerative cooling on an engine this small and have it be a single channel.”


New 3D Printing Tech Brief Available

Additive manufacturing — aka 3D printing — has an important place in product development alongside CNC machining and injection molding. At Proto Labs, customers have the option to print their products with several different plastic and metal materials through various additive technologies. Continue reading

2015 Manufacturing Leadership Award

We’re excited to announce that we’ve been presented with a 2015 Manufacturing Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan. The award honors manufacturing companies and individual manufacturing leaders that are shaping the future of global manufacturing

Proto Labs was recognized in the Innovation Process Leadership category for its Cool Idea! Award program, which provides gratis prototyping and short-run production services to entrepreneurs bringing inventive new product ideas to life.

Read more about our award here. Continue reading

Design Tip: How to Get Well-Rounded Parts with Lathe

Our new turning technology can help you create cylindrical features.

The launch of CNC turning brings product designers and engineers a new set of machining capabilities for part production at Proto Labs. By adding turning centers to our three-access milling services, we’re able to better machine parts with cylindrical features. Turned parts have excellent surface finish and are typically more cost effective for customers.

Whether you’re developing a new camera lens housing, drive shaft or anything else cylindrical in nature, we may be able to assist. We currently offer parts made from aluminum, steel and stainless steel materials, but are working to expand our options with the impending release of brass and copper and the introduction of plastic later in 2015.

Read our full design tip on CNC turning to see if it’s right for your next project.