The HELVETIA team of the Swiss ARIS initiative successfully launched their supersonic sounding rocket at the Spaceport America Cup 22 in New Mexico. Oerlikon supported the team with additive manufacturing expertise and production capabilities to develop and 3D print various components for the rocket, including an injector and a nozzle.
The rocket is 5.3m long and carries avionics and 4kg of payloads to an altitude of 30,000 ft. Oerlikon AM helped with the various rocket parts, including the Nozzle (MetcoAdd 718C), Injector (AISi10Mg), nose cone tip (AISi10Mg), Hatch (PA12), and Launch lugs (PA12). By additively manufacturing rocket parts, all parts were produced for sustainability and cost efficiency.
Additively Manufactured Injector
The injector is an injection system for the oxidizer, with multiple connection points, providing space for various sensors important to the propulsion system. Weight is crucial for an efficient launcher. By additively manufacturing this part using SLM (Selective Laser Melting), the weight of the injector was reduced by 1.2 kilograms, and the complexity of assembly was greatly reduced.
Component of Liquid Engine: Additively Manufactured Nozzle
The nozzle for the bi-liquid engine* uses regenerative cooling to make longer firing times possible. The additively manufactured nozzle was made with MetcoAdd 718C (Alloy 718) to withstand the high temperatures and stresses of a launcher firing. An optimal cooling allows the engine to fire for up to 20 seconds. Regenerative cooling is achieved through 40 cooling channels (ø 1mm2), which split into 80 channels after the throat. Additional film cooling channels (0.6mm^2) located at the throat help to reduce the temperature during test firings even further. The complex geometry of the nozzle is nearly impossible to achieve through conventional manufacturing. The additively manufactured nozzle is cheaper, easier to construct, faster, and weighs less, a critical factor in aerospace technology. Using 3D printing technology, the student project was able to produce a nozzle that meets the industry standard. As a comparison: a conventionally manufactured nozzle that the student project used weighed 11.1 kg, while the AM nozzle weighed 1.6 kg!
Additive Manufacturing plays an increasingly important role in space technology. We are an experienced, trusted, and certified product development partner of the space industry.