Aerojet Rocketdyne’s family of 3d-printed rocket engines
Aerojet Rocketdyne is developing a family of low-cost, highly reliable rocket engines for main-stage, upper-stage and in-space propulsion using 3-D printing. The Bantam engine family is being adapted from the proven design of the Atlas Sustainer engine to take full advantage of additive manufacturing capabilities. These engines, which would normally be composed of over 100 parts, are built from only three additive-manufactured major components: the injector assembly; the combustion chamber; and a monolithic throat and nozzle section.
Demonstrating the ability to produce a predominantly 3-D printed engine is key to reducing the cost of future rocket propulsion systems. On the 5,000-pound-thrust “Baby Bantam” engine, Aerojet Rocketdyne reduced total design and manufacturing time from more than a year – typical for engines of this size — to a couple of months. Utilizing additive manufacturing on this program reduced the cost by approximately 65 percent over conventional methods.
The Bantam family of engines produces thrust ranging from 5,000 up to 30,000 pounds and can be adapted to use various fuels including kerosene, ethanol, methane and storable propellants.