Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA successfully completed a series of hot-fire tests on a liquid-oxygen/gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly built using additive manufacturing technology. This testing, in cooperation with NASA Glenn Research Center (NASA-GRC) under a Space Act Agreement, was a key step in the development and certification of the integrated manufacturing process, analysis and design tool, and component technologies required to implement Selective Laser Melting (SLM) for highly critical rocket engine components. Aerojet Rocketdyne is a GenCorp company.
"This project combined new additive design / analysis tools and manufacturing processes to make a component with legacy engine performance characteristics, paving the road to implement these technologies in these engine products," said Jeff Haynes, program manager, Additive Manufacturing, Aerojet Rocketdyne. "This is a significant advancement in the application of additive manufacturing to rocket engines. Additive manufacturing has the ability to produce complex parts at a fraction of the time and cost, if applied through a rigorous risk-based process. Today, we have the results of a fully additive manufactured rocket injector with a demonstration in a relevant environment."
The hot-fire test required significant material design data development from the additive manufacturing process to ensure adequate factors of safety and reliability. This injector was designed by Aerojet Rocketdyne engineers to reduce manufacturing lead time from more than a year to just a few months, resulting in potential cost savings of more than 70 percent compared to traditional manufacturing processes. The next steps in the adoption of this technology include the generation of scale-up and establishing production requirements. Aerojet Rocketdyne is actively working to integrate advanced manufacturing technologies into the product lines to address affordability concerns across the industry.