The recently fired up Ignus-II is the second iteration of the Ignus-I engine, the first 3D printed engine launched by a student organization. Ignus-II builds upon UCSD’s research and data gathered, featuring many improvements to optimize efficiency.
Ignus-II is being developed to launch the Vulcan 2 rocket, SEDS UCSD’s second Liquid Oxygen/Kerosene bipropellant rocket. The engine is entirely manufactured in Inconel 718 using DMLS and is designed to produce ~830 lbs of thrust. DMLS allows for very complicated internal geometries without extensive machining and manufacturing. It was 3D printed by i3D MFG.
“Essentially, all of our work is design, and the rest is handled by 3D printing technology”
Sam Mastro, Propulsion Team Lead at SEDS UCSD.
The Igus-II combustion chamber has 95 variable area regenerative cooling channels running the length of it, which absorb heat from the combustion process and keep the engine within operating temperatures. Traditionally, regenerative cooling is a labor-intensive process that requires brazing the cooling tubes to the inside of the chamber or complicated machining.
“Additive Manufacturing has made regenerative cooling channels almost trivial- it’s just CAD work. This is just one of the awesome capabilities that DMLS has afforded us”
The Igus project builds on the previous Tri-D project, the first engine designed by SEDS at UCSD in 2013. It was the first 3D printed rocket engine by a student organization. Tri-D was developed with the help of NASA’s Marshall Flight Center and printed with by GPI Prototype and Manufacturing Services. It was meticulously designed to prevent overheating by burning fuel away from the walls, utilizing a regenerative cooling jacket, and maintaining a layer of relatively cool gases