Aerojet Rocketdyne Achieves 3-D Printing Milestone with Successful Testing of Full-Scale RL10 Copper Thrust Chamber Assembly
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"Aerojet Rocketdyne has made several major upgrades to the RL10 to enhance the engine's performance and affordability since it first entered service in the early 1960s," said
"We believe this is the largest copper-alloy thrust chamber ever built with 3-D printing and successfully tested," said Additive Manufacturing Program Manager
The 3-D printed RL10 copper thrust chamber would replace the current RL10C-1 model design that uses a very complex array of drawn, hydroformed stainless steel tubes that are brazed together to form a thrust chamber. The new chamber design is made up of only two primary copper parts and takes just under a month to print using SLM technology; reducing overall lead time by several months. The part count reduction of greater than 90 percent is significant as it reduces complexity and cost when compared with RL10 thrust chambers that are built today using traditional manufacturing techniques.
Another key benefit provided by 3-D printing is the ability to design and build advanced features that allow for improved heat transfer. For many rocket engine applications, this enhanced heat transfer capability enables a more compact and lighter engine, which is highly desirable in space launch applications.
"This full-scale RL10 thrust chamber test series further proves that additive manufacturing technology will enable us to continue to deliver high performance and reliability while substantially reducing component production costs," said RL10 Program Director
Since its first operational flight in 1963, more than 475 RL10 engines have flown in space to help place numerous spacecraft into Earth orbit and propel others to explore every planet in our solar system.
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Glenn Mahone, Aerojet Rocketdyne, 202-302-9941 Glenn.Mahone@Rocket.com
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