Cosmos Magazine recently ran an interesting announcement from a team of Melbourne, Australia-based engineers. The team, from Monash University, in collaboration with Amaero, has developed a fully 3D printed ‘aerospike’ rocket engine.
This ‘aerospike’ design is certainly atypical of rocket engines. Most rocket engines utilize a bell-shaped configuration. The team chose to do things differently because an aerospike design “concentrates the output from the rocket engine, allowing it to maintain thrust more efficiently than [bell-shaped rocket engines.] On top of this anomaly, the rocket engine was fully 3D printed. The Project’s Lead, Graham Bell, explains why 3D printing was the “key to creating the aerospike rocket:”
“Designing for additive manufacture opens up a raft of possibilities. We were able to focus on the features that boost the engine’s performance, including the nozzle geometry and the embedded cooling network. These are normally balanced against the need to consider how on earth someone is going to manufacture such a complex piece of equipment. Not so with additive manufacturing.” The team only took four months to develop this rocket – which is an incredibly fast timeframe.
As a result of their success, Bell and his team have set up a new company, NextAero, in order to continue development of this 3D printed ‘aerospike’ rocket.
Image and Quotes Courtesy of Cosmos Magazine