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NASA Successfully Tests 3D Printing Copper Combustor

Date: 2018-05-11
Views: 10
Source: 3dhoo

NASA continues to apply additive manufacturing to projects, whether it be 3D printed rocket engine parts or the launch of 3D printed CubeSat into space. For several years, NASA has been working hard to build a complete 3D printing rocket engine project. It will not cause the engine to actually enter space; on the contrary, our goal is to prove that the 3D printing engine can be completed and can be completed again in the future, changing the way the rocket engine is manufactured and saving money, time and resources.

Advancing projects in a cost-effective manner involves the use of additive manufacturing to develop high-pressure/high-temperature combustors and nozzles with copper alloys. In its latest development, NASA successfully conducted a thermal combustion test at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, using a new combination of 3D printing technology. The project was a joint effort of the Marshall Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.




"NASA continues to break the barriers to advanced manufacturing by reducing the time and cost required to build rocket motor parts through additive manufacturing. We are excited about the progress of this project. We have demonstrated that the combustion chamber jacket created by the free manufacture of electron beams can The combustion chamber is protected from the pressure in the combustion chamber,” said John Fikes, the project manager of the project.




In 2015, NASA 3D printed the first full-size copper rocket engine part ever built, which was used by Marshall Material Scientists to use a powdered copper alloy 3D printed combustion liner. The combustion chamber was then lined to Langley where nickel alloys were deposited onto the liner using electron beam free-form fabrication techniques (a 3D printing process that uses electron beams and wires to form the metal structure) to form the chamber sandwich.




The copper lining has good thermal conductivity, but it is not very strong, so the nickel alloy sheath can strengthen it so that it can withstand indoor pressure. This process does not require traditional techniques like brazing, which means that the sandwich can be done in hours rather than days or weeks. In addition, the conventional process requires multiple welded parts, and the electron beam free-form manufacturing technology allows it to be integrated.




The combustion chamber was recently returned to Marshall where it was mounted on a test bench and was fired at different power levels for a duration of 2 to 30 seconds similar to the actual launch. Finally, the test runs at 100% power for 25 seconds and the chamber remains in good condition based on the tested data.

“Testing rooms in flight-like conditions helps us to continue to prove these revolutionary technologies. We take pride in the manner in which we preformed chambers and Marshall’s capabilities during the testing, which allows us to continue manufacturing for additive manufacturing. The progress will pave the way,” said Chris Protz, head of engineering and design for the advancing project.

NASA Successfully Tests 3D Printing Copper Combustor



The combustor liner and jacket technology will be incorporated into a new project called Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology, which aims to further increase the production time and cost of the thrust chamber assembly.


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