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GE Additive’s ATLAS laser powder bed fusion platform enables rapid design-build-test cycles to produce larger jointless designs required for applications.
Metal laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) is beneficial to key aerospace and defense industries by enabling geometric designs otherwise impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methodologies. While capable of building complex thin walls and internal passages, LPBF is limited by relatively small build volumes, so aerospace and defense suppliers require part joining in order to fabricate a final component. These joining operations involve additional manufacturing steps—including tooling, post processing, and inspections as well as the associated development and validation of those processes—resulting in increased cost, weight, part defects, and lead times.
The project is attempting to attain 90 percent part count reduction for a powerhead propulsion system critical to both scramjets and space launch vehicles. This addresses the needs of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to enhance supply chains through part consolidation, efficiency, and heightened performance. The powerhead considered for the project is currently composed of over 1,000 parts to run a hot gas manifold, main injector, heat exchanger, and pre-burners. This project is demonstrating how GE’s proprietary ATLAS LPBF large build platform technology (1,000 x 900 x 300mm) brings the part-count down to 11.
GE, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center are collaborating to develop qualification data requisite of manufacturing a powerhead for liquid fueled scramjet and rocket systems, using GE Additive’s proprietary LPBF ATLAS technology. This team is positioned with engine programs and a wide array of product applications for weld joint removal including RS-25 engines. This gives opportunity to work closely with GE on the innovative large format machine (ATLAS) and the premier materials team at NASA.
GE is executing experiments to evaluate metallurgical and flow properties compared to the parts produced on other commercial LPBF machines, establishing new design approaches, new part orientations, and parameter settings.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is defining material property and feature size resolution requirements while NASA is performing the corresponding testing and evaluation. GE is building test specimens with NASA evaluating the ATLAS-produced parts.
The tasking approach for successful output is a four phase approach with Phase I encompassing the build envelop evaluation with high laser power, Phase II developing the stitching through three design of experiments and a final optimized stitching verification, Phase III addressing downward surface development and heat transfer coefficient (HTC), and Phase IV providing a full scale component build.