Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc., has recently marked another major milestone in its ongoing effort to incorporate additive manufacturing technology into its products by completing a series of successful hot-fire tests of its RL10 upper-stage rocket engine. The RL10 development engine, dubbed XR708, included a core main injector built using additive manufacturing technology, often referred to as 3D printing. The work was done in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force and NASA’s Glenn Research Centre as part of the RL10 Additive Manufacturing Study (RAMS) program, which aims to demonstrate the capability of additively manufactured complex parts and qualify them for use in large rocket engines.
“Updating our products to take advantage of the advancements we’ve made in additive manufacturing technology is a key part of our strategy to deliver more affordable products to our customers while at the same time maintain the reliability they’ve come to expect,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake.
The core main injector was fabricated using an additive manufacturing technology known as selective laser melting (SLM). SLM is essentially a micro-welding technique that uses a high-powered laser beam to fuse powdered metal to form detailed components that can perform under the extreme pressures and operating conditions of rocket engines.