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3D-printed engine combustor withstands hypersonic flight testing

by • January 21, 2016 • No Comments

Aerospace 3D printing went Mach 5 this week, with Orbital ATK revealing that it has that successfully tested a printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. A key scramjet component, the 3D-printed combustor spent 20 days undergoing high-temperature hypersonic flight conditions as well as one of the longest duration propulsion wind tunnel tests for such a component.

The combustor was assembled at the company’s Ronkonkoma, New York facility and the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia via an additive making system known as Powder Bed Fusion (PBF). In this, a layer of metal alloy powder is laid down by the printing device and a laser or electron beam fuses areas of it by next a digital pattern. As every layer is futilized, a 2nd is laid down until the system is accomplished. The excess powder is and so removed and the component is smoothed and polished.

The company says that PBF printing is necessary for the reason of the harsh create of the combustor, that may otherwise need multiple parts and a much longer and expensive making system. Through this fabrication method, Orbital ATK says new and otherwise impractical showcases can be prototyped, and potentially tested rapidly and cheaply.

The scramjet combustor is utilized to hold and maintain a stable combustion under volatile hypersonic conditions in a scramjet engine operating at speeds in excess of Mach 5 (3,800 mph, 6,125 km/h). The tests were utilized not only to observe how effective the 3D printing system was, but in addition to see if the finished product met undertaking objectives. Orbital ATK says that it met or exceeded all of the test needments.

“Additive making opens up new possibilities for our createers and engineers,” says Pat Nolan, Vice President and General Manager of Orbital ATK’s Missile Products division of the Defense Systems Group. “This combustor is a excellent example of a component that was not easy to create only a few years ago. This successful test can encourage our engineers to go on to explore new creates and use these new tools to lower costs and minimize making time.”

Source: Orbital ATK

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