Aug 22, 2017 | By Tess

HRL Laboratories, a California-based research lab owned by Boeing and General Motors, has received an award from NASA’s Space Technology Research, Development, Demonstration, and Infusion program. The funding will enable HRL to advance the development of 3D printed rocket engine components made from temperature-resistant ceramics.

In 2016, we reported on HRL Laboraties’ innovative ceramic resins, which are capable of withstanding temperatures over 1,400 degrees Celsius when 3D printed and fired. The research, which was published in the journal Science, suggested that the company’s high-temperature and 3D printable ceramic material could play a significant role in the aerospace industry.

It seems that NASA is in agreement, as it has recognized the Malibu-based company with an award that will enable it to continue its 3D printing research and apply it to aerospace applications, specifically the production of reinforced ceramic rocket propulsion components.

"High-temperature ceramics are notoriously difficult to process with conventional methods," said Tobias Schaedler, a senior scientist at HRL and the project's program manager. "3D printing could completely change what ceramic parts look like and where they are applied in rocket engines.”

Lattice structure made from HRL 3D printed ceramic

HRL’s 3D printing ceramic resin is made from “preceramic polymers” that are compatible with stereolithography technology. In simple terms, the preceramic resin is 3D printed layer-by-layer using an SLA method and then the print is fired to create a “fully dense ceramic part.” And while shrinkage does occur in the firing process, it is apparently uniform, making it easy to predict.

With the NASA award (worth an unspecified amount), HRL Laboratories will continue work on its 3D printable ceramics with the aim of offering the aerospace industry a means to make high-performance parts with greater flexibility and ease while reducing production costs and overall lead times.

As part of its work with NASA, HRL will reportedly subcontract Tucson-based micro satellite launch company Vector. The latter will assist HRL by exploring new rocket engine designs suitable for ceramic 3D printing and will “assess performance improvements” offered by 3D printed parts to its launch vehicles.

Vector launch vehicle

The NASA award will see HRL Laboratories working on its project for two years before rocket engines that integrate 3D printed ceramic parts will be ground tested at Vector’s launch facility in Arizona.

Interested in reading more about HRL Laboratories’ high-performance 3D printed ceramics? You can find the study, entitled “Additive manufacturing of polymer-derived ceramics,” here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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yzorg wrote at 8/25/2017 5:00:58 PM:

the first two pictures are old...

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