The University of California, San Diego chapter of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space conducted two hot-fire tests of their second 3D printed rocket engine on April 18, 2015 at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry test facility in the Mojave Desert.
The rocket engine, named Ignus, was created with Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology, or DMLS. This type of metal 3D printing is an additive layer technology. A metal 3D printer utilizes a laser beam to melt metal powder on top of each other. The rocket utilized liquid oxygen and kerosene as its propellants and was designed to achieve 750 lbf of thrust, a stepping stone in the club’s goal of producing larger and more powerful rocket engines.
“We aim to align our research so it is compatible with the needs of the aerospace industry. 3D printing has significant benefits including huge cuts to the cost, time to fabricate, and weight of rocket engines”, said Deepak Atyam, Club President and Gordon Fellow.
The SEDS chapter conducted this research with the support of various organizations including NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Lockheed Martin, the Gordon Engineering Leadership Center, and XCOR Aerospace.
Ignus is the first engine that was tested in a series of hot fires of different engine designs that the club plans to do in a lead up to their eventual rocket launch later this year at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition. The competition was held in Green River, Utah June 24-27, 2015. Vulcan1, the rocket that housed the Ignus engine, was one of the first rockets powered by a 3D printed engine in the world.