Jan 19, 2017 | By Benedict

Tri-D Dynamics LLC, a startup co-founded by graduate students from Purdue University, is using 3D printing, or ‘hybrid additive manufacturing techniques,’ to create small rocket engines. Using 3D printing is purportedly faster and cheaper than traditional methods.

Tri-D Dynamics: Deepak Atyam (left) and Alexander Finch

Although half of the team behind Tri-D Dynamics, an exciting new engineering startup, is yet to graduate from a Purdue University master’s program, the innovative new company is well on the way to producing liquid rockets with 2,500 to 5,000 pounds of thrust using hybrid additive manufacturing techniques. According to co-founder Alexander Finch, these rockets can be made in as little as two days; two weeks at most. To put that into perspective, making such an engine via traditional methods could take three or four months.

Tri-D explains that this rapid production of rockets using 3D printers is partially down to the minimal manual supervision required to operate additive manufacturing equipment. “Typically you would need up to two machinists in addition to welders quality assurance personnel, testing personnel, and possibly more depending on complexity of the engine,” said co-founder Deepak Atyam, who recently received a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. “With 3D printers, ideally you will only need one or two people.”

While undergraduate students at the University of California, San Diego, Finch and Atyam led a college student team that designed, produced, and tested a working 3D printed rocket engine. Since then, the pair have completed internships with NASA and received recognition from a number of established scholars and organizations for their work in the field. Now, as they prepare to move from academia into work, the duo have a clear and focused business plan.

Tri-D Dynamic’s plan is to supply clusters of their 3D printed engines for the launch vehicles of major spacecraft developers. Once their engines have been used on a launch vehicle, Finch and Atyam expect to see demand for their products increase. “Our goal is to see these rockets launching once or twice a week,” Atyam said. “And that’s a minimum of 10 to 20 engines per week when you get to that scale. Nobody right now can stamp out engines at that rate.” A larger number of 3D printed engines per vehicle will hypothetically increase payload capacity.

Although relatively new to the business, Tri-D’s respectable amount of work experience has given the startup the confidence to try and achieve big things within the aerospace sector. “We hope to gain a large market share of the rocket engine production industry,” Atyam said. “Most others produce them through conventional methods or outsource them to machine shops. We want to be the one-stop-shop to be able to create rocket engines on a large or small scale.”

Tri-D was given a leg-up in the business world after going through Purdue Foundry’s LaunchBox incubator program last semester. The startup will continue working with the accelerator and entrepreneur-in-residence Mike Shepard as it looks to grow further.

For those who doubt the abilities of the young duo, Finch and Atyam have offered a stark warning: “Engine technology has been stagnant for 60 years but now we are at the dawn of the next space age,” they say. “We are challenging the status quo.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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