Last November, NASA put two rocket engine parts made with additive manufacturing technology through 23 hot-fire tests to see if they could withstand stresses similar to what they might be subjected to during real rocket engine operation. The tests were conducted as part of a NASA program called the Long-Life Additive Manufacturing Assembly (LLAMA), which aims to use additive manufacturing so that someday components made by the process can be sent to the moon and to Mars.

One part was a nozzle made from a high-strength iron and nickel alloy and the other was a combustion chamber made from a copper alloy. The nozzle was made using a directed energy deposition (DED) additive manufacturing process where a laser melted the metal powder layer by layer until the desired part geometry was achieved. The 23 hot-fire tests were 280 minutes in duration each. Aside from looking for component failures, the team of scientists and engineers at NASA also observed certain performance metrics as well, such as fuel efficiency, temperature and pressure.

Figure 1. NASA’s hot-fire testing of rocket engine components made by additive manufacturing. Source: NASAFigure 1. NASA’s hot-fire testing of rocket engine components made by additive manufacturing. Source: NASA

Siemens, Sintavia partner to develop new additive manufacturing software

Siemens, a top global manufacturer and manufacturing technology company, is partnering with additive manufacturing service provider Sintavia to develop a new Siemens full-service software program for additive manufacturing. The aim of the new software being created by the Siemens Digital Industries Software unit is to span the entire spectrum of an additive manufacturing project — from concept and design to finished part. Sintavia is aiding in the partnership by providing their additive manufacturing expertise to Siemens’ engineers and software developers. Sintavia has extensive experience providing end-to-end additive manufacturing solutions for its clients and will leverage this knowledge to help Siemens iterate the software. To facilitate these iterative improvements, Siemens will send unreleased software to Sintavia for use, and Sintavia will offer Siemens feedback and suggestions for improvements. In return for the help, Siemens will be making Sintavia one of their preferred additive manufacturing service providers.

Japanese company opens new additive manufacturing R&D facility

Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation (TNSC), a Japanese company owned by Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings and the nation’s largest industrial gas producer and supplier, has opened what it is calling its Additive Manufacturing Advanced Room. While TNSC’s gas business does not rely heavily on their ability to make additively manufactured goods, their manufactured products divisions have the potential to benefit from developing their ability to produce using additive technologies. Also, the indirect benefits on the gas business, like improving their ability to provide industrial gas systems for other additive manufacturers through the knowledge gained in the new R&D center and highlighting to their existing gas customers the advantages of additive manufacturing, could provide further profit potential for the company. TNSC has already invested in additive manufacturing in the past, and the Additive Manufacturing Advanced Room is intended to cement their commitment to developing the process even further.