Aerojet Rocketdyne recently confirmed it manufactured and tested a liquid oxygen/kerosene engine entirely by 3D printing, reducing the production time and manufacturing costs considerably.

DOD Orders Large-Scale 3DP Technology

Aug. 23, 2014
Aerojet Rocketdyne to install, test SLM systems that would displace forging, casting, machining, brazing, welding  Three-year, $11.75 million program Lower-cost liquid rocket engine parts Parts in nickel, copper, and aluminum alloys

Aerojet Rocketdyne, a manufacturer of aerospace and defense propulsion and energetics technology, landed a three-year contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, OH, to install a series of large-scale additive manufacturing systems based on selective laser melting (SLM.) These systems are intended to be used to develop liquid rocket engine components, for national security and space launch services.

SLM is an additive manufacturing (aka, 3D printing) technology that would replace various forming methods (including forging, or casting), subtractive technologies (machining), or other processes (welding, brazing.) It uses a laser as a power source to melt metal powders that have been deposited in a pattern defined by a CAD program. As the material fuses it forms a three-dimensional structure.

A significant point in this program is the large-scale forming capability of the SLM systems. Aerojet Rocketdyne will demonstrate three different alloys with the additive manufacturing machines, including nickel, copper and aluminum alloys. The parts to be manufactured range from simple designs (large ducts) to more complex products (heat exchangers.)

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National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute / CWRU
A research team at Case Western Reserve University is using additive manufacturing techniques (e.g., selective metal sintering) to restore shape to dies that have been damaged by “heat checking.” This illustration shows a section of a die surface where additive manufacturing is able to restore finish details damaged by thermal stress induced during manufacturing.