It claimed to be the first space tech globally to design a rocket engine that can be printed as a single piece of hardware, using 3D printing technology
Indian space-tech start-up Agnikul announced that the Government of India had awarded it a patent for designing and manufacturing its single-piece rocket engines. Agnilet, a single-piece engine, is the world's first single-piece 3D printed rocket engine fully designed and manufactured in India.
Successfully test-fired in early 2021, Agnilet has been designed to encapsulate all elements into a single piece of hardware and has zero assembled parts. Agnikul showcased this engine at IAC 2021, Dubai, a prominent space tech gathering worldwide.
Agnikul recently inaugurated its Rocket Factory- 1, India's first-ever rocket facility dedicated to 3D printing such rocket engines at scale. Situated at the IIT Madras Research Park, this production facility houses a 400mm x 400mm x 400mm metal 3D printer from EOS, amongst other machines, to enable end-to-end rocket engine manufacturing under one roof.
Commenting on the patent, Srinath Ravichandran, co-founder and CEO of Agnikul, said, "Rocket engines usually have 1000s of parts in them, starting from injectors that inject fuel into the engine, to the cooling channels that cool the engine, to the igniter that is necessary to ignite the propellants. Designing Agnilet as a single piece of hardware has not been an easy ride, but our team has proved it to be otherwise."
Founded in 2017 by Ravichandran, Moin SPM and Professor SR Chakravarthy, the IIT Madras incubated Agnikul became the first Indian company to sign an agreement with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in December 2020. The agreement signed under the IN-SPACe initiative helps the start-up access ISRO's expertise and facilities to test its systems.
The Chennai-based company has raised a total funding of Rs 105 crore from Mayfield India, pi Ventures, Speciale Invest, and other angel investors, including Anand Mahindra and Naval Ravikant. It is building India's first private small satellite rocket, Agnibaan, that will be capable of carrying up to 100 to 300 kg of payload to low Earth orbits up to 700 km. The vehicle has the capability for a plug-and-play engine configuration that is configurable to match the mission's needs precisely.