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AFRL Tests 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Thrust Chamber

Additive manufacturing

AFRL Tests 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Thrust Chamber

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Rocket Propulsion Division has tested a single-block rocket-engine thrust chamber built using an additive manufacturing process called laser powder directed energy deposition.

Javier Urzay, chief of the Combustion Devices Branch within the division, said the DED can produce 7 ft tall parts as it provides “the largest build box volume for hardware to date.”

The 3D printing process features the laser bed fusion capability, produces less material waste and enables engineers to perform alloy blending experiments to create multi-alloy builds that could improve the strength, weight and performance of spacecraft engines, AF .mil reported.

Exploring additive manufacturing methods is part of the AFRL’s initiative to address the challenges that come with developing components designed to operate in harsh conditions.

The AFRL also aims to promote the adoption of the production process by the rocket propulsion industry and government laboratories, citing how the technology can accelerate production through automated manufacturing processes and build parts with 3D shapes and internal features.

According to Urzay, his office worked with multiple industrial partners and government organizations to enable additive manufacturing for rocket engines.

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Tags: 3D printing additive manufacturing AFRL Defense and Intelligence Javier Urzay powder directed energy deposition rocket engines Rocket Propulsion Division US Air Force