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Liquid Rocket Engine Injector

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metal 3d printing
metal 3d printing

Almost all of Amiga’s projects working with Aerospace, Space and Defence are governed under NDA, and are unable to show. But Amiga’s partnership with 3D Systems, does allow us to provide examples of projects that are similar to ours, and are used on the same equipment that Amiga uses in-house.

Project Details

A European Union (EU) Horizon 2020 project called “SMall Innovative Launcher for Europe” (also known as the SMILE Project) aims to design a small satellite launch vehicle to deliver small satellites (up to 150 kg) into a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Structures and Design, based in Stuttgart, Germany, is one of fourteen participating organizations, and is responsible for developing a liquid/liquid rocket engine injector for the SMILE Project launcher. The Institute’s focus on a liquid propulsion system is due to the potential for system refurbishment and reuse, therefore offering a more cost-efficient solution for small satellite launchers.

“The combination of the ProX DMP 320 and 3D Systems’ knowledge of design for 3D printing made it possible for us to test more design options in much less time.”

Metal 3D printing with DMP enabled DLR to:

  • Optimize part performance via new opportunities for fuel and coolant distribution;
  • Easy implement 3D-pathed pressure and temperature sensor channels;
  • Eliminate intermediate production and assembly steps;
  • Independently optimize thermal, mass and hydraulic performance without the restrictions of traditional fabrication methods;
  • Avoid assembly failure points and enhance quality aspects with a monolithic design;
  • Reduce machining steps to produce a highly integrated and multifunctional injector.

The Challenge

DEVELOP AND PRODUCE A HIGHLY COMPLEX INJECTOR HEAD FOR A LIQUID ROCKET ENGINE

In light of the high complexity of the injector head component of its liquid oxygen (LOX)/kerosene engine, DLR partnered with 3D Systems’ Customer Innovation Center (CIC) in Leuven, Belgium, to design a 3D printed injector that enables new possibilities and performance. 3D Systems’ Leuven CIC is one of four worldwide centers dedicated to accelerating advanced applications by providing customers with access to the resources necessary to develop, validate and commercialize their products.

The Solution

PARTNERING FOR SUCCESS

By opting to 3D print its coaxial injector head, DLR sought to take advantage of several key benefits of additive manufacturing, including parts count reduction with a monolithic design as well as integrating key features such as cooling channels for better performance of the overall propulsion system.

Markus Kuhn and Ilja Müller manage the injector head project at DLR, and say they selected 3D Systems as a partner given the 3D printing company’s successful track record in metal 3D printing for aerospace applications. “Based on the success of space related initiatives involving DMP, we thought that 3D Systems was perfectly suited for providing the design-for-manufacturing aspects of the injector head, with an eye on new possibilities for sensor integration and fuel and coolant distribution,” says Kuhn.

The Results

IMPROVED FINAL PART PERFORMANCE AND INCREASED PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY

  • Optimized part features

    introduce better performance

    30:1 part count reduction

    through ability to consolidate design with additive manufacturing

  • 10% reduction in weight

    versus conventional design

    Accelerated design cycles and lowered production costs

    by eliminating tooling

METAL ADDITIVE IN AEROSPACE

Metal 3D printing has built momentum as a key technology in aeronautics and aerospace due to the alignment of its benefits with the industry’s key priorities, including reduced weight, fuel savings, greater operational efficiencies, parts consolidation, accelerated time-to-market, and fewer storage requirements for parts

metal 3d printing
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