Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Engineering Challenge

This week I’m going to write a teaser. Stay tuned for results, pictures, and with luck (edited) video. What happens when a Z Corp. design engineer starts talking about model rockets with other design engineers? Before you know it, custom designed rockets begin to emerge from ZPrinters®! Rockets are not something I spend a lot of time thinking about but the image that comes to mind are of the NASA Mercury and Apollo rockets. They have a nose cone on top of a long cylinder and maybe a set of fins at the bottom. There were a few of those and a few that you would think had no business launching off a pad at a thrust of 10 – 30 Newton. This activity pushed limits of rocket design as well as 3DP capabilities. Simple cylindrical rockets were produced with average wall thicknesses of .025” in order to keep the weight down. More creative designs placed the rocket motor closer to the top instead of at the bottom. Another can be most easily described as a skeletal design having no skin or shell whatsoever.

Challenges like this one help our engineers more fully understand the limits and capabilities of our 3DP technology. They provide a creative environment that fosters problem solving and innovation.


  1. I keep a Z-corp turbine blade on my desk. It is in color to represent FEA. I use this model when I interview candidates. I am looking for:

    1 - Do they have a basic understanding of what the colors represent?

    2 - Once I confirm they understand basics of FEA, I ask them how they would solve the potential design problems they notice?

    3 - I have them explain the steps they would take in CAD, so I can get a picture if they are a basic or more skilled CAD user.

    In addition to the interview and design engineering process, I find these prototypes of great use for marketing and customer contact.

  2. David, I think of early stage 3D printed models as a communication tool. The more information the model contains the better the communication. This translates into better decision making. Your example shows how our full color capabilities help you effectively communicate with prospective applicants and how that leads to better decisions. It’s always great to hear about innovative uses of 3D printing. Thank you for sharing! -Mark