Rocket Man

Grandpa Builds Retro Rocket Ship for Young Astronaut

Retro Rocket Ship

3D printing has helped a grandpa make a big impression on his two year old grandson by creating a retro rocket ship playhouse.

The rocket, which was inspired by a similar model from MakerBot (which itself was inspired by TinTin), is even complete with tiny astronauts and a moon rover vehicle for hours of fun!

Chris Knowlton said to Simplify3D: “My plan was to make an open-sided rocket, a moon rover vehicle with trailers, and enough supply items so that my little two-year-old ‘astronaut’ can stock the spaceship for a pretend flight into space and then explore the new worlds in the moon rover.”

Everything about the design is extremely complex and well thought through. The moon rover which Chris also designed has six wheels and a cab that holds the two plastic astronauts. Plus: any number of trailers can be added behind the front vehicle!

This rocket stand almost two feet tall. The interior was designed with three floors, each with an opening that provides a pathway between them, perfect for a two-year-old. To do all of this, Chris had to print the rocket in different sections.

Chris Knowlton explained, “My grandson has a real interest in vehicle tires and trains. So I designed the vehicles to hook together and to have lots of wide tires. Each tire is made up of five plastic pieces and four square rubber O-rings. The O-rings give the tires a more authentic look and protect the playing surface. They are also much less noisy than plastic tire treads.”retro rocket ship

How did he make the Retro Rocket Ship?

Chris printed the parts using ABS filament with his Printrbot Simple Metal 3D printer. For better build platform adhesion, he used a heated bed, Kapton tape and a thin mixture of ABS and acetone.

The combined printing time for more than 195 separate parts which all make up the rocket, the moon rover and all their accessories, was roughly 300 hours.

Chris chose to use Simplify3D for his design. “Like everyone else, I was trying free slicer and host software, but none of them provided me with the control I felt was necessary to print parts at the highest level of quality,” he said. “After getting Simplify3D, the difference in print quality was incredible.”

In order to ensure a  high quality and very durable rocket, Chris adjusted his Simplify3D settings to print most of the parts with a three-layer shell, five bottom solid layers, and seven top solid layers. His infill was usually around 20 percent too.

retro rocket ship