NASA tests Additive Manufactured rocket engine injector

July 16, 2013

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne of West Palm Beach, Fla., USA, have recently finished testing of a rocket engine injector made via Additive Manufacturing (AM).

A series of firings of a liquid oxygen and gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly demonstrated the ability to design, manufacture and test a highly critical rocket engine component using selective laser melting manufacturing technology. Aerojet Rocketdyne designed and fabricated the injector by a method that employs high-powered laser beams to melt and fuse fine metallic powders into three dimensional structures.

“NASA recognizes that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by ‘printing’ tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft,” stated Michael Gazarik, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Space Technology in Washington.

This type of injector manufactured with traditional processes would take more than a year to make but with these new processes it can be produced in less than four months, with a 70% reduction in cost.

“Rocket engine components are complex machined pieces that require significant labour and time to produce. The injector is one of the most expensive components of an engine,” stated Tyler Hickman, who led the testing.

Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Additive Manufacturing program manager, Jeff Haynes, said the injector represents a significant advancement in application of additive manufacturing. “The injector is the heart of a rocket engine and represents a large portion of the resulting cost of these systems. Today, we have the results of a fully additive manufactured rocket injector with a demonstration in a relevant environment,” he stated.

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne partnered on the project with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, Californiua. At the Air Force lab, a unique high-pressure facility provided pre-test data early in the program to give insight into the spray patterns of additively manufactured injector elements.

“Hot fire testing the injector as part of a rocket engine is a significant accomplishment in maturing additive manufacturing for use in rocket engines,” added Carol Tolbert, Manager of the Manufacturing Innovation Project at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre. “These successful tests let us know that we are ready to move on to demonstrate the feasibility of developing full-size, additively manufactured parts.”


For more information about Aerojet Rocketdyne, visit: www.rocket.com

For information about NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, visit: www.nasa.gov/glenn

For more information about the Air Force Research Laboratory, visit: www.afrl.af.mil 

www.nasa.gov/spacetech 

News | Articles | Market reviews | Search directory | Subscribe to e-newsletter

In the latest issue of PM Review…

Download PDF

Extensive Powder Metallurgy industry news coverage, and the following exclusive deep-dive articles and reports:

  • Powder Metallurgy’s challenge: How does automotive’s reliance on model-based decision making impact our industry?
  • How to make metal powders. Part 4: Centrifugal and other special atomisation methods
  • Precision and energy efficiency in PM press technology: Insights from Ceramitec 2022
  • Historic traditions and new innovations: refractory metals and hard materials at the 20th Plansee Seminar
  • Tailoring a speciality alloy for Additive Manufacturing: From powder production to parameter optimisation
  • Understanding the compaction and sintering effects of four commonly used lubricants in Powder Metallurgy

The latest news from the world of metal powders, delivered to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of PM Review, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our weekly newsletter.

Sign up

From the industry…

Discover our magazine archive…

The free-to-access PM Review magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of Powder Metallurgy from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading PM part manufacturers, metal powder manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.

 

Browse the archive

 

Looking for PM production equipment, metal powders, R&D support and more?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our
advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of PM Review magazine.

  • Powders & materials
  • Powder process, classification & analysis
  • PM products
  • Atomisers & powder production technology
  • Compaction presses, tooling & ancillaries
  • Sintering equipment & ancillaries
  • Post-processing
  • Consulting & toll sintering
Download PDF
Share via
Copy link