Mar 26, 2018 | By Benedict

Barcelona-based Zero 2 Infinity has received support from non-profit organization FADA in its effort to develop a new generation of rocket engines with 3D printed combustion chambers. 3D printing reduces the cost, weight, and environmental impact of the “Bloostar” engine.

You might not think of Spain as a hotbed of space exploration technology, but Barcelona’s Zero 2 Infinity has just taken a big step on its path to producing next-generation, partially 3D printed rocket engines.

That’s thanks to a collaboration with non-profit FADA (Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development), which has 3D printed a rocket combustion chamber for Zero 2 Infinity using a Renishaw RenAM 500M 3D printer.

The 3D printed chamber was developed at CATEC, FADA’s Advanced Center for Aerospace Technology, which is located in Seville and focused on applied research, development, and technological innovation for aeronautics and space.

“It’s amazing to work with a company like Zero 2 Infinity,” commented Dr. Fernando Lasagni, HO Materials & Processes division at FADA-CATEC. “It’s something we were willing to do for a long time. We are committed to foster this development and hopefully we will have a fully tested part on relevant environment in short time.”

Excitingly, Zero 2 Infinity and FADA are planning to further their partnership by using artificial intelligence (AI) and neural networks to “optimize the cooling of the thrust chamber via structures that cannot be manufactured by any other means.”

Zero 2 Infinity has also been singing the praise of additive manufacturing technology, particularly in regard to its ability to improve rocket engines.

“Traditional rockets have had straight cooling channels because that’s all that could be manufactured,” said Jose Mariano Lopez-Urdiales, founder and CEO of Zero 2 Infinity. “When you put a flashlight in your ear, you see a wonderful tree-like structure of blood vessels. We don’t have straight rows of blood vessels in our ears. 3D printing and AI now allow rockets to evolve, like nature.”

The rocket being developed by Zero 2 Infinity, Bloostar, will have a balloon-assisted first stage that will bring the rocket above 99% of the mass of the atmosphere, where there is very little aerodynamic resistance.

Because of this, Bloostar’s engine, which is named “Teide” after Spain’s highest mountain, is designed specifically to launch from a high altitude, rather than from the ground.

The RenAM 500M, the 3D printing system used to produce the combustion chambers for Teide, is a powder bed fusion metal 3D printer designed for industrial use. It has a build volume of 250 x 250 x 350 mm.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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