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Airframe Time!

Airframe Time!

Here’s the dilemma. We need the strongest, lightest skeleton possible for our rocket. The obvious choice for material is aerospace grade aluminum. (6061-T6, duh.) We also need to cut a ton of pieces, and need them done fast. The usual way to do that is with a CNC milling machine, but that can take a while and be very expensive. Also, when you cut a piece of metal with a saw or a milling machine, the metal heats up causing it to anneal and weaken. So what’s the solution?

One of the CNC waterjet cutters at New Jersey Waterjet.

Waterjet cutting is the solution!! The helpful staff at New Jersey Waterjet were able to take our CAD files and produce 30 perfectly-cut parts in just under a week.

An original drawing, fresh from our CAD software

Waterjet cutting uses a high pressure stream of water and abrasive sand to cut through nearly anything. In addition to being fast and precise, waterjet cutting actively cools the parts, preventing them from becoming annealed.

The finished airframe parts

These parts will hold together the whole rocket, so it’s a good thing they’re strong.