By Industrial Print Staff
Efficiency in development is one of the many reasons additive manufacturing (AM) is used in any number of industries. It is especially popular in aerospace due to the long tail often attached to the research and development phase.
Combine the process with correct material and the recipe is often one for success. Specific powders are designed to withstand high temperatures they are subjected to in the manufacture aerospace components.
Certification in Motion
Agile Space Industries is an in-space propulsion solutions provider, specializing in hypergolic chemical systems. Agile has industry leading expertise in the design of chemical propulsion rocket thrusters. Rapid prototyping, development, qualification, and delivery is catalyzed by in-house AM and engine test capability.
Agile recently announced plans to pursue certification of 6K Additive-produced Ni625 powder for customer space applications including critical rocket parts.
Ni625 is Ni-Cr-Mo-Nb solid solution superalloy with high corrosion resistance, high strength, excellent fatigue resistance, and high-temperature stability. Ni625 properties make this alloy application for AM interesting for marine and nuclear applications where corrosion is a concern and aerospace and racing car applications where high-temperature stability is required.
The first parts to be produced using 6K Additive Ni625 will be used in Agile’s A2200 bipropellant hypergolic engine. The engines are powered by a pressure-fed hypergolic bipropellant, which does not require ignition as the hydrazine derivative fuel, M20, and MON3 oxidizer combust on contact. Leveraging AM, the engine was designed to weigh just 5.9kg and produce 500-lbf of thrust, underscoring the benefits of lightweighting with AM while delivering tremendous power.
Agile’s A2200 engines will be used on a Lunar lander vehicle. The A2200 engine was developed to provide maximum performance on demanding missions, with a specific impulse of more than 318 seconds. Using an integral pintle sleeve throttling mechanism, the engine is capable of deep throttling, providing a smooth ride and fine control for a variety of missions. The engine can throttle from 50 to 100 percent thrust in under 650 milliseconds. Making it the perfect engine for heavily demanding maneuvering sequences that lunar missions require.
“By weight, 85 percent of our engine components are AM, meaning we rely heavily on AM powders that can withstand the extreme temperatures and forces generated during take off and flight. 6K Additive allows us to AM using high-quality powders that are required for our critical applications, while also helping us meet our environmental goals through their recycling program and sustainably manufactured powders. 6K Additive can deliver consistent powder that allows our production line to run the long build times required for these complex components,” explains Kyle Metsger, director of additive technology, Agile.
Agile leans toward AM when creating its aerospace components due to development cycles. Traditional development cycles for aerospace components can be more than two decades. However, by harnessing the speed and flexibility of AM, Agile compresses development time down to 12 months.
While simultaneously beginning the certification process for the 6K Additive Ni625 powder, Agile also installed a TRUMPF TruPrint 5000. Combined with external part and powder management and the monitoring solutions from TRUMPF, the powder bed fusion system is predestined for industrial additive series production. Optional features include 500°C-preheating and the fullfield multilaser with three 500-watt TRUMPF fiber lasers. As an option, the entire process chain can be carried out in a shielding gas atmosphere—sieving, printing, cooling, depowdering.
“A year-long development cycle still sounds like a very long time in many industries, but we are showing the primes in the aerospace industry what the future looks like. Moving to the larger TruPrint 5000 machine gave us the ability to qualify the new parameters for the machine and material simultaneously. In this way, AM allows us to be ‘Agile’ in name and practice,” continues Metsger.
High-quality powder like Ni625 from 6K Additive allows solutions providers like Agile to move quickly from development to full-fledged production.
Read part one of this series, A Light Ride.
Nov2023, Industrial Print Magazine