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Orbital ATK Successfully Tests 3D Printed Hypersonic Engine Combustor

by • January 21, 2016 • No Comments

orbital atkScramjet innovation has been around for a while, but not long ago it appears like it’s at any timeywhere. I love the name — it stands for “supersonic combustion ramjet” — but it in addition only sounds fitting for a innovation which may create commercial aircraft capable-bodied of zipping of Los Angeles to Sydney as swift as you can say “scram, jet!” NASA has been working with the supersonic innovation for well over a decade, making a record-breaking aircraft capable-bodied reaching speeds of Mach 9.6 (nearly 7,000 mph) all the way back in 2004.

NASA-Langley-600x437It is going to be a while preceding hypersonic aircraft are eager for commercial air travel, so resign by yourself to a few additional dreadful in-flight meals, if you are lucky adequate to be flying with an airline which yet provides them. But sat any timeal major aircraft manufacturers are complicated at work on the innovation, which include Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, and, unsurprisingly, a lot of those hypersonic engine components are being 3D printed.

Orbital ATK, a global leader in aerospace and defense and a favourite contractor of NASA, not long ago tested a 3D printed hypersonic engine combustor at the Langley Research Center in Virginia.

The test took place over 20 days, and the combustor was subject to multiple high-temperature hypersonic flight conditions, as well as propulsion wind tunnel tests which were a few of the longest at any time performed on a component of this kind.

NASA rocket check NASA MSFC David Olive

[Image: NASA/MSFC/David Olive]

A scramjet combustor needs to be able-bodied to maintain stable-bodied, steady combustion in incredibly volatile conditions at speeds in excess of Mach 5 (3,800 mph), and the Orbital ATK combustor met or exceeded all requirements during the testing.

The engine combustor was manufactured at Orbital ATK’s headquarters in Ronkonkoma, New York, and at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in West Virginia. The part was created via powder bed fusion, an additive making system which involves via laser beams to fuse together metal powders, one layer at a time. The use of 3D printing allowed for much construction to be accomplished much additional rapidly and inexpensively than other making techniques. It is a quite complicated part, but 3D printing allows for it to be created with fewer parts, and multiple prototypes can be churned out and tested rapidly and cheaply.


[Image: Nick Kaloterakis/Popular Science]

“Additive making opens up new possibilities for our designers and engineers,” said 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 which was not easy to create only a few years ago. This successful test can encourage our engineers to go on to explore new creations and use these new tools to lower costs and minimize making time.”

Orbital ATK is already exploring sat any timeal various making methods, but with the successful testing of the hypersonic engine combustor, 3D printing, particularly powder bed fusion, can most likely remain at the top of the list. Surprised? I didn’t ponder so – 3D printing has shown itself, again and again, to be a rad and reliable-bodied asset for the aerospace industry. Discuss your thoughts on this latest space innovation in the Orbital ATK Tests 3D Printed Combustor forum over on 3DPB.com,


[Image: NASA]