Rocket Flame Trench 3D Printing Project

Last semester as well as this semester, I have been working with Dr. Taalman to produce a 3D printed model of the rocket flame trench that is located at the launchpad in NASA’s Wallop Flight Facility on Eastern Shore Virginia. When a rocket is launched it generates a lot of heat, and the trench directs the exhaust and heat away from the rocket.  

Dr. Lubert, who is currently researching how to minimize the vibration caused by the rocket launch noise, gave us several blueprints and pictures of the trench. This gave us an idea of the shape of the trench.

Our first step was to see if Fusion 360 had the tools we needed to design the model. We tested our idea on how to build the model in Fusion 360 and printed an object that has a similar shape as the trench.

After we had figured out that we could design the model in Fusion 360, we scanned the blueprints and up loaded them to the Fusion 360 cloud. Since the blueprints contain proprietary information, we also removed all the measurements from the blueprints in case Fusion 360 was hacked and the blueprints stolen.  (The blueprints will be available at the presentation.)  

Once the blueprints were in Fusion 360, we sketched the shape of the trench by tracing over the blueprints. Since we do not have blueprints for the cross sections of the trench and for the top, we will need to use available pictures to help us to determine the shape of these sections

At this point, the side section of trench has been sketched. The top and front sections still need to be sketched. Once the model has sketched and the different planes connected to a make a 3D model, the model will be ready to print.  The printed model will give Dr Lubert a better understand of the shape of the trench and how a rocket’s exhaust flow through and exits the trench.


Photo Credits: Dr. Lubert and Lyndon Swarey