Aerojet Rocketdyne is leading the industry in designing and building aerospace components using 3-D printing technology.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has invested time and resources over the last two decades to evolve additive manufacturing technology to meet the stringent requirements of rocket engine and defense systems applications. That investment is now paying dividends as we begin to incorporate the technology into production programs to significantly reduce lead times, make our products more affordable and enable new approaches to design that were simply not feasible just a few short years ago due to the limitations of traditional manufacturing.
In recent years, Aerojet Rocketdyne has notched several successes in developing this technology for a broad range of products, from discrete component demonstrations, to hot-fire testing of engines and propulsion systems made entirely with additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing will benefit both our legacy products and new products that are starting to take shape. From small satellite propulsion systems such as the MPS-120, to the extremely affordable small to medium boosters that make up our Bantam engine family, all the way up to larger rocket engines like the RL10 and Aerojet Rocketdyne’s emerging high-performance, high-thrust booster engine, the AR1.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has also been working to differentiate its Defense Advanced Programs (aka Rocket Shop) using the new design spaces enabled by additive manufacturing. Rocket Shop examples include tactical (hypersonics), missile defense and strategic systems applications. The Rocket Shop is an area within Aerojet Rocketdyne designed to develop innovative energetic products for entry into new markets; lead internal and contractual research and development projects; and pursue non-traditional technologies for emerging opportunities.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is committed to remaining at the forefront of this emerging technology in order to deliver high-performing, affordable propulsion systems to our customers for decades to come.
- Cost – The use of additive manufacturing dramatically reduces the amount of touch labor required to build many engine components, which allows us to deliver more affordable legacy products and new product applications to our customers.
- Schedule – Components that once took hundreds of hours to produce with traditional manufacturing techniques can now be built in just days using a single machine. This reduces lead times significantly and allows us to bring our products to market more quickly.
- Flexibility – Aerojet Rocketdyne’s engineering team has refined its approach to the design process to reflect the dramatically expanded possibilities enabled by additive manufacturing. They are free to design products that were once thought impossible due to the constraints of traditional manufacturing.
What Sets Us Apart
- Powders – We fully understand powder feedstock that is utilized – including particle size, distribution and chemistry – to make sure the resulting alloys can perform under the extreme pressures and operating conditions of rocket engines.
- Process – We have worked directly with original equipment manufacturers to learn the intricate details about how the selective laser melting process works so we can adjust parameters -- such as laser speed, and core and contour scan strategies -- to achieve optimal microstructures and surface finish features to meet our requirements.
- Properties – We have performed detailed analysis of components built using additive manufacturing to fully characterize the materials and properties to make sure they will perform as designed. We actually test the alloys at the extreme operating conditions faced by our products, including temperatures that range from -320°F to 2,100°F. We account for all those operating environments in our designs to ensure they can operate in the extreme environments of space.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has been recognized by Fast Company magazine as the No. 1 innovator in our industry on its recently published list of The World's Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Space.
- Bantam Family and XS-1
- MPS-120 CubeSat
- Orion Crew Module
- Various energy products
- Various missile defense and tactical products
Jan. 5, 2016: Setting the Standard for 3-D Printed Rocket Engines