Design of the Week: Saturn V Rocket

A massive 3D print of the famous Saturn V Rocket

This week’s selection is the not-quite-lifesize 3D print of the 1960’s Saturn V Rocket by Korneel Bullens.

The design of the rocket was completed by Thingiverse contributor Paul Fischer, published about a year ago. But this post is not so much about the design, which is itself incredible, but the astonishing 3D print of it made by Bullens. 

We saw the 3D printed rocket at this year’s AMShow prominently placed at the front of colorFabb’s booth. But you have to look way up to see the entire thing, as it is approximately 4m tall (13ft)! It’s hard not to miss.

 This 3D print of a Saturn V Rocket is extremely tall
This 3D print of a Saturn V Rocket is extremely tall

The model was printed in colorFabb’s new nGen material, which, as explained by colorFabb, is their primary printing material. Fischer chose nGen because of its combined properties of strength, lack of warping for such large pieces and ease of printing. 

But the print, which comprise not only the rocket but also the entire launch gantry, is massive. Apparently printing the model required over 3,500 hours of on a set of four Ultimaker desktop units. The Saturn V Rocket has to be one of the largest 3D prints ever attempted on a desktop device, and only the second complete print of this 3D model.

 The detail on this huge Saturn V Rocket 3D print is incredible, as are the colors
The detail on this huge Saturn V Rocket 3D print is incredible, as are the colors

The print does not seem to be painted; all colors are provided directly by careful selection of nGen plastic. 

 The base of the Saturn V Rocket 3D print where lockdowns hold the vehicle as it gets up to speed
The base of the Saturn V Rocket 3D print where lockdowns hold the vehicle as it gets up to speed

When a print is so large it becomes a bit more lifelike. Here we see a view of the base holding down the rocket before it’s launched. It’s the same view that you’d see in historical footage of the massive rocket launching in Florida, but this one was quiet when we dropped by. 

 The capsule of the Saturn V Rocket 3D print, far above the floor
The capsule of the Saturn V Rocket 3D print, far above the floor

Far up at the top is the Apollo capsule, captured with a zoom lens as we didn’t have a tall stepladder handy. Again, great detail on this print. 

They say “no pain, no gain” and this print proves that maxim: 3,500 hours of printing is an incredible effort and the result is astonishing. 

Bullens, by the way, is a very active 3D Hubs provider based in Utrecht, Netherlands. No doubt his busy 3D printing business helped gain the experience necessary to attempt this incredible print. 

For the rest of this, the Saturn V Rocket print demonstrates that large, complex objects can be produced with small desktop 3D printers. 

Via Thingiverse

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