Washington: A team of NASA researchers has found that 3D manufactured copper parts could withstand the heat and pressure required of combustion engines used in space launches.
The US space agency and California-based rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne (AR) conducted 19 hot-fire tests on four injector and thrust chamber assembly configurations at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre.
“The successful hot fire test of engine components provides confidence in the additive manufacturing process and paves the way for full-scale development,” said Tyler Hickman, lead engineer for the test at Glenn.
3D printing approach is changing the speed, cost and flexibility of designing and building future machines for space and earth applications.
The work is a major milestone in the development and certification of different materials used in the manufacturing process.
Copper alloys offer unique challenges to the additive manufacturing processes.
“Additively manufactured metal propulsion components are truly a paradigm shift for the aerospace industry,” added Paul Senick, Glenn project manager.
This will improve efficiency and bring down the cost of space launches and other earth applications, he concluded.