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Aerojet Rocketdyne to define standard for 3-D printed rocket engines

Staff writer |
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, received a $6 million contract from the U.S. Air Force.

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The company will define the standards that will be used to qualify additively manufactured components for use in liquid-fueled rocket engine applications.

The award is part of the U.S. Air Force Booster Propulsion Technology Maturation Broad Agency Announcement, which is part of a comprehensive Air Force plan to transition off the Russian-made RD-180 engines currently used on the Atlas V launch vehicle.

Aerojet Rocketdyne will draw upon its extensive experience with additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3-D printing, to establish the standards to qualify 3-D printed rocket engine components for flight.

“New liquid rocket engine designs—like the AR1 engine we are building to replace the Russian-made RD-180—are increasingly taking advantage of 3-D printing technology because it reduces the amount of time and money required to build these complex components,” said Julie Van Kleeck, vice president of Advanced Space & Launch Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

“It is imperative that engine manufacturers understand the qualification methodology for this revolutionary technology because of the criticality of the assets they help launch into space.”

The use of additive manufacturing technology reduces the cost to produce components, shortens build times and provides flexibility to engineers to design components that were once impossible to build using traditional manufacturing techniques.

This program will define the rigorous engineering and inspection processes to be followed when producing and testing 3-D printed components to assure that they meet the stringent requirements of aerospace systems.

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