Laser Wire Direct Closeout (LWDC) uses a freeform-directed energy wire deposition process to fabricate components, and it has the potential to reduce build time from several months to several weeks.
“NASA is committed to revitalizing and transforming its already highly advanced manufacturing technologies for rocket engines. What makes this development project even more unique is there were three separate, state-of-the-art, advanced manufacturing technologies used together to build a better nozzle and prove it out through hot-fire testing — an example of why Marshall continues to be a worldwide leader in manufacturing of propulsion technologies,” said Preston Jones, Director of the Engineering Directorate at Marshall.
Nozzles are actually quite complex components, despite their simple appearance; the use of additive manufacturing in GE’s famed fuel nozzle was groundbreaking in that it brought the technology to bear in commercial aircraft, earning it a mention among the most significant objects ever 3D printed. 3D printing the fuel nozzle saved on weight and costs, as well as simplifying the design, all critical considerations in the aerospace industry.
Rocket nozzles are actively, or regeneratively, cooled, meaning that the propellant later used in the combustion cycle is routed through the nozzle to cool the walls so that they do not overheat. To regeneratively cool the nozzles, a series of channels is fabricated within the nozzle. Those channels must then be sealed to contain the high-pressure coolant. The new LWDC process uses wire-based additive manufacturing to close the channels and form a support jacket, reacting structural loads during engine operation.
After the process was developed and patented by Marshall, it was used by Keystone Synergistic Enterprises to fabricate and test a nozzle. Engineers put the nozzle through hot-fire testing at Marshall, accumulating more than 1,040 seconds at high combustion chamber pressures and temperatures. The technology is now being licensed and considered for commercial applications across the industry.
“Our motivation behind this technology was to develop a robust process that eliminates several steps in the traditional manufacturing process,” said Paul Gradl, a senior propulsion engineer in Marshall’s Engine Components Development & Technology Branch. “The manufacturing process is further complicated by the fact that the hot wall of the nozzle is only the thickness of a few sheets of paper and must withstand high temperatures and strains during operation.”
Two other technologies were tested at the same time: an abrasive water jet milling process to form the cooling channels developed by Ormond, LLC, and an arc-based deposition technology to additively manufacture the near net shape liner that would contain the water jet milled channels. All three technologies were developed through NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research program, which works to bring the agency together with industry partners to advance manufacturing.
“One of the things I get excited about is advancing and proving out new technologies for our application with industry partners that a private space company can then use as part of their supply chain. That was the objective behind some of this — we formulated the concept, worked with external vendors, and now we’re partnering to infuse this new technology throughout industry to improve advanced manufacturing,” said Gradl.
NASA has been working for some time on bringing additive manufacturing into rocket engine production, building up a record of successful tests of various components and technologies as 3D printing continues to find its way into end-use applications in a demanding industry.
Discuss aerospace, rocket engines, nozzles and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.[Source: NASA]
You May Also Like
3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup: April 10, 2021
We’ve got another packed week of webinars and virtual events for you, starting with Hannover Messe 2021 on Monday. What else is coming up this week: ASTM CoE’s personnel certificate...
3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup: April 4, 2021
ASTM’s certificate course continues this week, and Cellink is discussing oncology drug screening applications in a webinar. Those are just two of the topics in this week’s webinar roundup, followed...
LimaCorporate and HSS Open First Hospital-Based Facility for 3D Printed Implants
In 2019, global orthopedics manufacturing company LimaCorporate S.p.A. and the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), the top-ranked orthopedic hospital in the United States, announced that they were partnering to establish the...
HP & Ford Team to Recycle 3D Printed Waste into Car Parts
In some of the most interesting additive manufacturing news I’ve heard recently, HP and Ford announced that they have teamed up to revolutionize how 3D printing waste is reused in...
View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.