Jun.27, 2013

In Nov.2012, With support from NASA, Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) demonstrated how to fabricate parts using 3D printer and moon-like material. Amit Bandyopadhyay and Susmita Bose, professors in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, are well known researchers in the area of 3D printing.

Their current project, supported by Aerojet Rocketdyne, a GenCorp (NYSE:GY) company, is an exploratory project to make metal and ceramic components for a miniature research satellite using 3D printing. About the size of a coffee cup, it holds the world's smallest liquid rocket engine.

Founded in 1942, Aerojet is an American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer based in Rancho Cordova, California. Although Aerojet has been interested in additive manufacturing, the company has been concerned about meeting design specifications for attributes like strength, uniformity and brittleness.

"You can imagine that you want to print an airplane structure, but you have to prove that it's good," said Christian Carpenter, program manager at Aerojet. "The pieces have to work every time - and many of them for long periods."

Aerojet hopes WSU will help the company develop parts that work every time. "We believe that additive manufacturing could mean lower cost parts due to no tooling, no set up and little rejected material," said Carpenter. "This could shorten our schedules for small quantity parts." With 3D printing, parts could also be more easily modified than with traditional manufacturing techniques.

"It enables us to look at new designs that we really can't build any other way," Carpenter said. "This work is a necessary step that allows us to validate 3D printing technology for space systems.

"Whether the project successfully produces parts or not, we're going to learn something valuable," he said. "I have no doubt that we're going to find an application for this manufacturing process that provides significant benefit."



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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