Here at 3D Rapid Print, one of the fastest growing 3D Printing companies in the Thames Valley, we like to keep abreast of the latest innovations in 3D printing.

On January 13th 2021, space technology start-up AgniKul Cosmos (AgniKul) of Chennai, India announced that it had developed a rocket engine that could 3D printed as a single piece of hardware. Named Agnilet, it is intended to be used in the second stage of AgniKul’s launch vehicle Agnibaan, which is designed to carry a payload of up to 100kg to low earth orbits of up to 700km. A full-scale test fire was successfully done on the engine in February. Other examples of 3D printing’s use in rocketry include other space technology start-ups Skyrora of Edinburgh and Skyroot Aerospace (Skyroot) of Hyderabad (also in India).

In May 2020, Skyrora announced that it had completed the UK’s first vertical static fire test of a space rocket for 50 years, using a rocket with a 3D printed engine. Earlier that month, it built what it described as a “mobile launch complex” at the Kildermorie Estate in the Scottish Highlands and completed a full static fire test of its Skylark L rocket on it, all within just 5 days. (The rocket was restrained to the ground to prevent it from taking off; a fire and rescue team were also present to intervene if necessary, although they didn’t need to.) At the time, Skyrora proclaimed that the Skylark L could be ready to launch from a British spaceport as early as spring 2021, although to date this has never happened.

In September 2020, Skyroot unveiled a fully 3D printed rocket engine, named Dhawan-I after Indian aerospace engineer Dr. Satish Dhawan. Skyroot intends to use the Dhawan-I engine to power the upper stage of its Vikram-II rocket. Named after Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) founder Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the Vikram series comprises 3 launch vehicles mainly developed for launching small satellites. (The ISRO is India’s national space agency.) Skyroot expects to launch its first rocket in December 2021.

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