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ISRO completes hot test of metal 3D printed liquid rocket engine

Via LPBF, the re-design reduced the component count from 14 separate parts to a single piece

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully completed a hot test of its metal 3D printed liquid rocket engine for 665 seconds on May 9, 2024. The engine tested was the PS4 engine from the PSLV’s upper stage.

ISRO completes hot test of metal 3D printed liquid rocket engine. The design reduced the component count from 14 parts to a single piece.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s metal 3D printed liquid rocket engine.

Traditionally manufactured through conventional machining and welding, the PS4 engine is utilized in the fourth stage of the PSLV – delivering a thrust of 7.33 kN in vacuum conditions. It is also a component of the Reaction Control System (RCS) in the PSLV’s first stage (PS1). Developed by ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), the engine operates on a bipropellant combination of Nitrogen Tetroxide as the oxidizer and Mono Methyl Hydrazine as the fuel, using a pressure-fed system.

The LPSC re-engineered the PS4 engine with a focus on DfAM – leading to significant benefits. Via Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), the re-design reduced the component count from 14 separate parts to a single piece, eliminated 19 weld joints, and significantly decreased the raw material needed per engine – from 565kg of forgings and sheets to just 13.7kg of metal powder. This also resulted in a 60% reduction in overall production time. The engine was manufactured by M/s WIPRO 3 and underwent hot testing at the ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri.

Earlier in the development program, the engine’s injector head was realized and successfully hot tested. Comprehensive flow and thermal modeling, structural simulations, and cold flow characterizations of the prototype hardware were conducted to build confidence for the hot test. Subsequently, four successful developmental hot tests of the integrated engine were performed – accumulating 74 seconds in total and validating the engine’s performance parameters. The engine underwent a successful full qualification test for 665 seconds, with all performance parameters meeting expectations. Plans are underway to incorporate this advanced manufactured PS4 engine into the regular PSLV program.

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Edward Wakefield

Edward is a freelance writer and additive manufacturing enthusiast looking to make AM more accessible and understandable.

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