5568.001 Maturing AM Technology for C-103 in Hypersonics and Space (MATCHAS)

Castheon printed C-103 thruster integrated into a Firefly Spectre engine for the Blue Ghost Lunar lander.


Current metal alloys used for additive manufacturing (AM) are based upon compositions developed for traditional manufacturing routes. The modification of legacy alloys or the development of entirely new alloys for AM offers a wide range of potential benefits including improved product performance, increased yield, producibility, and reduced post-processing costs. High-value materials of interest include high-temperature refractory alloys and Ni-based superalloys.


The Maturing AM Technology for Nb-C103 in Hypersonics and Space (MATCHAS) program is addressing critical feedstock supply chains for Nb-C103. This program specifically addresses the cost of Nb-C103 powder feedstock by qualifying an extended particle size distribution (PSD) for both laser-powder bed fusion (PBF-LB) and directed energy deposition (DED), utilizing a greater percentage of a powder production run.

Technical Approach

Castheon is partnering with industry leaders in Nb-C103 feedstock production ATI, AP&C, and 6K Additive to provide powder production expertise and custom PSD ranges. The objective of the program is to qualify two cut sizes that utilize the majority of a typical 15-180 millimeters (mm) production run while maintaining material integrity and reliability. These feedstocks will be manufactured by Castheon (PBF-LB) and FormAlloy (DED) leveraging historical material performance data as target goals for the down-selection of the respective PSDs. The down-selected PSD will be further matured through rigorous test programs led by NASA Glenn Research Center and NSL. Lockheed Martin and Firefly Aerospace are serving as industry production transition partners to further mature refractory AM materials for hypersonic thermal protection systems and space propulsion applications. Demonstrations will be conducted for both applications to achieve direct performance validation and reach an MRL of 7. Finally, 3Degrees is leveraging its TraceAM tool to ensure the digital thread is captured during these efforts. This program targets a 42% reduction in Nb-C103 powder costs along with a 150% increase in AM productivity without sacrificing material properties and part performance.

Project Participants

Project Principal

Other Project Participants

  • 3Degrees, LLC
  • 6K Additive
  • AP&C (A GE Additive Company)
  • ATI
  • Firefly Aerospace
  • FormAlloy
  • Lockheed Martin
  • NASA Glenn Research Company

Public Participants

  • U.S. Department of Defense

Project Summary

Back to Projects