3D printing of launch vehicle engine components … Development and testing of prototypes by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute


National research to reduce costs and production time by producing engine components for projectiles with 3D printing is paying off. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI, President Sang-ryul Lee) has successfully manufactured some components, and performance testing is underway.

KARI researchers including Byung-jik Lim, principal investigator of the Future Launcher R&D program office and Ha-young Lim, principal investigator of the projectile propulsion control team, passed the regenerative cooling combustion test. by manufacturing one ton of liquid methane (LNG) and liquid oxygen engine combustion chamber using metal 3D printing technology, announced on 19.

The researchers used “selective laser melting (SLM),” a technique that partially melts metal powder to shape it with a laser. They used copper and stainless steel in this prototype, and the use of copper for additive manufacturing of a combustion chamber is rare abroad and it is also the first time in Korea.

Production of the prototype was completed at the end of last year and combustion tests using the prototype are currently underway. The components made by 3D printing did not have a significantly different strength from existing mechanically processed materials in terms of strength, depending on the result of the unit analysis of the sample. On the contrary, some other characteristics have been shown to be superior.

The biggest advantage of 3D printing is the short production time. 3D printing has reduced the production time by several months by machining in a third. No additional machining process is unnecessary, with the exception of certain surface treatments, heat treatments and interface (bonding surface) machining. The complex internal components have been individually manufactured and assembled and assembled in the traditional manufacturing process, but they can be integrated into the 3D printing process.

This prototype is the result of prior research on innovative manufacturing technology for the future launcher in 2020, which started from research on the next-generation low-cost launcher in 2019. The research team is verifying the performance of the small two-stage projectile launcher thanks to prior technical research. This is a research achievement consisting in producing an engine using a relatively inexpensive 3D printing technique and low-cost propellants using liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquid oxygen.

Based on this achievement, KARI researchers plan to question the manufacture of other components such as turbopumps and valves used in one-ton engines. The manufacture of a combustion chamber for a 3 ton engine is in progress, and they also plan to research into simplifying the form through the diversification of materials such as the use of high performance copper alloy and the ‘expansion of equipment.

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Researcher Ha-young Lim said: “It is significant that we have confirmed the possibility of manufacturing engine components using 3D printing. years. “

Researcher Byung-jik Lim said, “This research is a core technology for the development of low-cost projectiles, and we will continue to conduct extensive research on it. “

Daejeon = Reporter Young-jun Kim [email protected]

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