Rocket Crafters, Inc. (RCI) has recently declared that a U.S. patent was granted to co-founder, President & CTO Ronald Jones for a method for designing and fabricating flawless, high-performance, safer handling fuel grains for hybrid rocket engines using additive manufacturing technology (also known as 3D printing) which will allow the fabrication of an inherently safe and less expensive launch vehicle with only two moving parts. Jones stated that 3D printing of the rocket combustion chamber allows RCI’s expendable motors to deliver small satellites to orbits at as low as half current launch costs.
RCI is developing Intrepid-1, the world’s first mass-producible orbital launch vehicle powered by rocket engines based on the now patented technology. This most recent patent furthers RCI’s portfolio of licensed technology that now includes multiple granted patents and pending applications.
The patented method (US 9,453,479) uses a design and fabrication technique that is only possible using advanced 3D printing technology to boost rocket engine performance while eliminating the historical inconsistencies and sources of excessive vibration that have plagued traditionally designed hybrid rockets for decades. His patented method takes advantage of 3D printing’s unique ability to precisely fabricate fuel grains (a tubular shaped structure that dually serves as the rocket’s solid fuel source and combustion chamber) which features internal geometric patterns designed to significantly increase the amount of fuel that is available for combustion on a second-by-second basis during the rocket engine’s operation.