May 17 (UPI) — Aerojet Rocketdyne has successfully tested a 3D-printed engine in a series of 17 experiments. The engine being tested is a liquid oxygen/kerosene, regenerative cooled, liquid rocket thrust chamber assembly design.
The series of exercises cover the performance, reliability, range and durability of 3D-manufactured engines.
Aerojet Rocketdyne says these engines are an 500 percent increase in thrust level and performance from their orginial Baby Bantam prototype. The Bay Bantam draws its name from having a thrust capacity of only 5000 pounds, which was tested in 2014. The current full-sized Bantams can be extended up to 200,000 pounds of thrust.
The 3D-printing assembly reduces the engine to only three manufactured parts as opposed to the over 100 in original models. The Bantam engine was designed, built, and tested in seven months.
Aerojet Rocketdyne spokesman Glenn Mahone said that the current model is made of nickel-based superalloy. The planned testing of 3D-printed engines will only scale up to 30,000 pounds of thrust.
The project has been funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. The agency specializes in “blue-sky” technological development that can be turned into workable technologies, both millitary and civilian.