A space company is developing metal 3D printed rocket engines

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Launcher inc. is making metal Additive Manufactured rocket engines. The so far operating under the radar firm has spent the past year using EOS metal 3D printers to make rocket components. They’ve then done firing tests with these components and are inching closer to making rocket engines. The Launcher inc. seems understated, small and agile. A different kind of rocket company. With Additive Manufacturing reduction in part count, complex assemblies, weight savings, faster development times, more iterations and lower costs are some of the key reasons to use the technology. These elements all come into play in aviation and are exaggerated even more in rockets. Reducing the number of parts significantly means lots less tooling, molds, casts, production steps and costs. If you can then have an increased freedom to design innovative shapes as well then you have an edge over competitors.

The Launcher Engine

 

The future of aviation will be shaped by Additive Manufacturing. The desktop, construction, educational, medical? Nobody knows if Additive Manufacturing will, in the long run, make an impact. In aviation, however, the cost, speed and geometry advantages will make a difference today. Additive Manufacturing will make or break companies in aviation and give new entrants exciting opportunities to out 3D print and out engineer the established players such as SpaceX and the one with the guy who waterskis with flight attendants. All in all an exciting opportunity for small group of people to make a difference. (Learn More about Additive Manufacturing Aerospace Industry)

 The Launcher engine and two injectors.

One advantage for Launcher is the fact they’re using Additive Manufacturing where it will make a difference but also that they seem humble in the face of the challenge and see it as a ten-year journey. In an interview, Launcher unveils what they have been up to and plan to do.

Launcher Engine:1 Rocket Injector 3D printed on EOS M290

Making a launcher for a Cansat? Picosat?

Launcher inc. is building an orbital launcher vehicle over a 10-year timeline. It all starts with engine development. They are 1 year old as a startup and have a small team. Currently, we are testing our 1/40th size development engine E-1 (Propellants: LOX/RP-1, Regen cooling, printed on EOS M290 in Inconel 718 in 3 parts, 500 lbf thrust, augmented spark ignition). Over the next 3 years, they are building E-2 – a 3D Printed 22,000 lbf thrust, LOX/Rp-1, staged combustion engine (turbopump fed). The E-1 helps them validate the design of the 3D printed combustion chamber and internal cooling channels before applying to the 40x larger E-2.

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Source3D Print.com https://3dprint.com/220518/launcher-a-space-start-up-making-3d-printed-rocket-engines/, visited on Jul 25, 2018;

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