Dec 15, 2017 | By Benedict

Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA have completed hot-fire testing of the RS-25 rocket engine, which contains a 3D printed vibration dampening device called a pogo accumulator assembly. The assembly, the largest 3D printed part on the RS-25, was made with an SLM 3D printer.

The Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25, a liquid-fuel cryogenic rocket engine that was used on NASA's Space Shuttle, is now being prepared for its new life as the engine of the Space Launch System, the successor to the Space Shuttle.

On Wednesday, NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne carried out hot-fire testing of the engine at the Stennis Space Center, evaluating the performance of a number of components including a metal 3D printed pogo accumulator assembly. And according to Aerojet Rocketdyne, 3D printed parts are something we're going to be seeing more and more of.

“As Aerojet Rocketdyne begins to build new RS-25 engines beyond its current inventory of 16 heritage shuttle engines, future RS-25 engines will feature dozens of additively manufactured components,” said Dan Adamski, RS-25 program director at Aerojet Rocketdyne.

With the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket estimated to cost up to $18 billion through 2017, its makers are understandably keen to reduce expenditure wherever they can. Selective Laser Melting (SLM) 3D printers are helping them do so, with parts like the pogo accumulator assembly.

The 3D printed vibration dampening device, made at the Aerojet Rocketdyne facility in Los Angeles, acts as a shock absorber, dampening oscillations caused by flowing propellants moving between vehicle and engine.

It consists of two components: the pogo accumulator and pogo-z baffle. Both of these well-named components are made using SLM, which reduces the total number of parts from 28 to six, eliminating 123 welds and one bolted joint. This in turn reduces material and labor costs, with each 3D printed assembly around one-third cheaper than a non-printed counterpart despite using a similar alloy.

“One of the primary goals of the RS-25 program is to lower the overall cost of the engine while maintaining its reliability and safety margins,” Adamski said. “Additive manufacturing is essential to achieving that goal.”

Those cost savings are made more emphatic by the fact that four RS-25 engines will be used to propel the Space Launch System, which will be used to take astronauts and cargo to the Moon and beyond.

Aerojet Rocketdyne says its largest available SLM machine was used to make the pogo accumulator assembly, which is itself the biggest 3D printed component in the engine. The process reduced production time by around 50 per cent.

The 3D printed vibration dampening device has been installed on a development engine, model 0528 (E0528), whose primary purpose is to test individual parts that will eventually be incorporated into the engines used on the Space Launch System. The development engine has also been used to test out parts like new flight controllers.

The recent green-run hot-fire test, the 19th RS-25 test at Stennis since 2015, was carried out to see how the 3D printed parts and other components would perform in normal operating conditions over a period of six minutes 40 seconds.

The test began at 2:45 PM local time, and was ended ahead of schedule. However, no problems were reported with the engine and the test fulfilled its objectives.

“This test demonstrates the viability of using additive manufacturing to produce even the most complex components in one of the world’s most reliable rocket engines,” said Eileen Drake, CEO and president of Aerojet Rocketdyne. “We expect this technology to dramatically lower the cost of access to space.”

The Space Launch System, complete with 3D printed components in its engine, may someday take astronauts to Mars.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive