The students who are building the Ignus 3D printed rocket engine say it will be “bigger, better, but a completely different design compared to our original Tri-D engine.”
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, or SEDS for short, are the undergraduate group at the University of California, San Diego, who designed, printed and tested a 3D printed rocket engine, and they say their latest engine will be placed into the Vulcan-1 rocket body and launched in June.
The student organization is looking for funds on Kickstarter to extend their record as the holders for the highest flight of a rocket powered by a 3D printed engine and to build the next generation of their rocket. The Vulcan-1 Rocket Body will be capable of achieving an altitude of 15,000 feet, and with its liquid fueled technology developing 750lbs. of thrust, it’s one of a mere handful of 3D printed rocket engines in the world.
SEDS say 3D printing “dramatically lowers the cost of the most expensive part of rocketry, the engine,” and they add that it’s a first step toward making humanity “an interplanetary species.”
As part of their research into the feasibility of 3D printed rocket engines, on October 5th, 2013, the students became the first university in the world to design and successfully test a metal, 3D printed rocket engine with their Tri-D system.
“It was an amazing feeling,” said Deepak Atyam, the team leader and president of SEDS. “We could all feel the power of the engine in the bunker. It’s something you can’t really describe.”
Forman Williams, a professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering and the student adviser for the group, says that although he was at first skeptical that the design for the liquid-propellant rocket would work at all, it succeeded in demonstrating that 3D printing is a viable manufacturing method for rocket engines with its ability to fabricated complex and detailed structures.
The UC San Diego team took NASA projects a step further by designing a complete engine. It was manufactured using a DMLS metal 3D printer by GPI Prototype and Manufacturing Services, the original engine project was primarily financed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., with the aid of Flometrics, a fluid dynamics and thermodynamics firm in Carlsbad, CA .
This latest iteration of their project rocket, Vulcan-1, will be powered by a new and larger 3D printed engine and it will be launched as part of the the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association’s Intercollegiate Engineering Rocket Competition from a pad near Green River, Utah.
SEDS say the funds are needed offset the costs associated with preparing for the launch of Vulcan-1. The funds will go toward building the Ignus engine, body materials, fuel, travel, and logistical expenses associated with the launch project.
You can check out the Vulcan-1 Kickstarter campaign here, and a commitment of $2,608 or more will make you a ‘Commander’ of the mission and get your name printed on one of the rocket’s injector plates, a Vulcan-1 Shot Glass, a postcard from a team member, a featured spot on the SEDS website and a 3D printed model of the rocket in ABS among other perks.
Do you plan to help support the SEDS 3D printed rocket project on Kickstarter? Are you a member of the SEDS team. If so, let us know in the 3D Printed Student Rocket Project forum thread on 3DPB.com.