On June 23, Aerojet Rocketdyne, manufacturer of rockets and missile propulsion systems, performed a series of hot-fire tests on a Bantam demonstration engine that was made entirely with 3D printing. Best of all, the engine, which will help the GenCorp company develop more cost-effective engines for booster, upper-stage, and in-space propulsion, passed those tests successfully.
Director of Advanced Launch Propulsion Programs at Aerojet Rocketdyne, Jay Littles, explains that this rocket wasn’t only partially made with additive manufacturing, it was completely 3D printed, “The demonstration of this engine, made completely with additive manufacturing, is another significant milestone in our path to changing propulsion affordability. We are not just making a stand-alone chamber or injector derived from traditional design approaches. Rather, we are integrating the full capability of additive manufacturing processes to evolve a proven, reliable, affordable design. We are doing so with technical depth and rigor to meet our unparalleled quality and safety requirements.”
By additively manufacturing aerospace components such as the Bantam engine, manufacturers can create complex, efficient designs, while reducing the number of separate moving parts. This engine, for instance, is normally made up of dozens of parts, but, in the case of the 3D printed upgrade, there are only three separate components: the combination injector and dome assembly, the combustion chamber, and a combination throat and nozzle section. Adapting a proven design of the Atlas Sustainer engine, the Aerojet Rocketdyne team was able to reduce design and manufacturing time from over a year to a couple of months. Additionally, the cost of the engine was brought down a stunning 65%….
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!