Aerojet Rocketdyne is no stranger to 3D printing. Nor are they strangers to rocket engines. Nor are they strangers to 3D printing parts for rocket engines and and so proving which they can stand up to burning hot flames. The defense developer has steadily been validating their 3D printed rocket engine parts for actual use in rockets. Their latest hot-fire test has demonstrated which a core main injector, 3D printed for use in their RL10 development engine, is suited for use in sizeable rocket engines.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s 3D printed single-element main injector under test fire in 2015.
The core main injector was 3D printed via Selective Laser Melting (SLM) innovation, enabling the defense developer to 3D print a detailed and complex part capable of withstanding the intense environment of a rocket engine. The part is the outcome of a $6 million contract with the U.S. Air Force, secured earlier this month, for the 3D printing of parts to be utilized in liquid-fueled engines. The deal is intended to assist the USAF replace Russian-created RD-180 engines for the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V commence vehicle. During a hot-fire test performed with the USAF and NASA’s Glenn Research Center as part of the RL10 Additive Manufacturing Study (RAMS) program, the team validated the injector’s use in the actual RD-180 engine.
Jay Littles, director of high end commence programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne, said of the accomplishment, “This is one of the many complex components we have tested in a sizeable rocket engine to date. But, we’ve only scratched the surface of what this innovation can do to revolutionize our industry. Our create engineers are only starting to take advantage of the expanded possibilities enabled by this new making innovation. They are now free to create products which were once idea not easy to create due to the constraints of traditional making.”
Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president Eileen Drake commented, “Updating our products to take advantage of the advancements we’ve created in additive making innovation is a key part of our strategy to donate additional low-priced products to our customers while at the same time maintains the reliability they’ve come to assume. This successful series of tests validates the complex approach we’ve been bringing and ensures we are on the right path. Incorporating this innovation can enable us to reduce significantly production lead times and manufacture our products additional cost competitive.”
There are most likely additional tests where this came of, as the defense company researches the use of 3D printing for engine parts additional. In so doing, Aerojet Rocketdyne proves which, if 3D printing is great adequate for commenceing a rocket into space, it’s great adequate for only of anything.