Orbital ATK says that it has successfully tested a 3D printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA Langley Research Center.

The combustor, produced through a powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (AM) process, was subjected to a variety of high-temperature hypersonic flight conditions over the course of 20 days, including one of the longest duration propulsion wind tunnel tests ever recorded for a unit of this kind. Analysis confirms the unit met or exceeded all of the test requirements.

One of the most challenging parts of the propulsion system, a scramjet combustor, houses and maintains stable combustion within an extremely volatile environment. The tests were, in part, to ensure that the 3D printed part would be robust enough to meet mission objectives.

‘Additive manufacturing opens up new possibilities for our designers and engineers,’ said Pat Nolan, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s missile products division of the defense systems group. ‘This combustor is a great example of a component that was impossible to build just a few years ago. This successful test will encourage our engineers to continue to explore new designs and use these innovative tools to lower costs and decrease manufacturing time.’

This story uses material from Orbital, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.