Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Dr. Bogdan Udrea

First Committee Member

Dr. Heidi M. Steinhauer

Second Committee Member

Dr. Sathya Gangadharan


The purpose of this study is to determine if a cubesat propellant tank using the additive manufacturing technology of direct metal laser sintering meets the requirements, and material properties of a conventionally manufactured tank. Additionally, to see if additive manufactured parts are a viable option to be used in cubesat applications. This was accomplished by designing a model which will be used by the ARAPAIMA cubesat that meets all the Air Force's University Nanosatellite Program (UNP), NASA's and Department of Defense's requirements for pressurized vessels and material properties. A finite element analysis study was conducted to determine where and when the propulsion tank will fail using an isotropic material. Afterwards two propulsion tanks were manufactured, one for nondestructive evaluation and inspection and the other for destructive testing. The task for destructive testing was prepared for hydrostatic pressure test, by plugging the holes for external components and by, installing six strain gages. The purpose of this test has been to compare the material properties of the isotropic FEA model of the tank to the anisotropic 3D printed tank.

After testing the propulsion tank to failure in the hydrostatic pressure chamber, is it clear that the AlSi10Mg material is stronger than a billet Aluminum 6061 T-6. The maximum operating pressure of the propulsion tank is 160 psi and the pressure the tank ruptured is 410 psi proves that FEA correctly predicted a factor of safety of 2.10. The results also proved that the propulsion tank was over designed and needs to be optimized to reduce weight and be redesigned for additive manufacturing in mind, such as an internal lattice support structure. Some features are still included to ease the labor if manufactured by conventional means.