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.”

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WEBINAR: How to Choose the Right Thermoplastic with PolyOne

With thousands of thermoplastics on the market, selecting the right material for a run of injection-molded parts can be intimidating. To help make the process more manageable, we’re teaming up with the plastics industry leader, PolyOne, to host a webinar with tips on choosing the right thermoplastic material for your application.

TITLE: Thermoplastics: How to choose the right material for your application
PRESENTER: Jeremy Bland, Technical Dev. Engineer, PolyOne
DATE: Thursday, September 22 at 1 p.m. CDT
REGISTER: Click here to sign up

The presentation will include the following:

  • Factors in thermoplastic material selection
  • Overview of common thermoplastics including the effects of additives
  • An open Q&A session

Busy that day and can’t make it? Not a problem. You can still register and we’ll send a link to a recording that can be watched on-demand. As usual, feel free to forward to a colleague know if you think he or she will be interested in attending.

Making the Steering Wheel Work

TRW Automotive’s clock spring design.

Most days drivers don’t give much thought to what happens when you press a steering wheel button. But it has been at the forefront of Rick Bowes’ mind for quite a while. Bowes is a designer in the body control systems group at Michigan-based TRW Automotive. The global company focuses on active and passive safety systems and has worked with Proto Labs for the past five years.   Continue reading

Innovation, Inspiration and Creativity on Display at SXSW Interactive

SXSW Interactive wraps up in Austin, Texas today and Proto Labs was proud to make our debut at the notoriously cool event — both as an exhibitor and attendee. Fittingly, we brought our Cool Idea! Award gallery to SX Create, a come one, come all event within the Interactive Festival that showcased innovative technologies and products that are shaping our future. Visitors to our space could check out a selection of previous Cool Idea! Award recipients to see how the inventive ideas went from concepts to actual products with a manufacturing hand from Proto Labs.

Our booth at SX Create showcased past Cool Idea! Award winners.

One of the many things SXSW is known for is its comprehensive music and film schedule where some tough decisions need to be made — the interactive counterpart is no different. By the time I finished plotting out my schedule, two hours had passed. Here are some session highlights: Continue reading

Engineers! It’s Your Week to Celebrate

Know an engineer? Show them some love this week. These inventors, builders, out-of-the-box thinkers, non-eye-contact makers deserve at least a week-long celebration of their services.

National Society of Professional Engineers.

National Engineers Week is an annual recognition that takes place from Feb. 22-28 this year. Established in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, it aims to:

  • celebrate engineers’ contributions to society.
  • raise awareness about the need for engineering in the world.
  • reach out to kids, schools, teachers and parents to get them excited about science, technology, engineering and math.

Continue reading