„Mission Critical“ perfectly describes the Class 1 components used in the aerospace industry. Missions costing hundreds of millions depend on these components. Accordingly, engineers are constantly seeking to develop components of the highest quality, functionality, and robustness while simplifying the manufacturing chain and reducing the number of individual elements. Thanks to EOS additive manufacturing technology, ArianeGroup has succeeded in taking this to a whole new level: Instead of 248 elements, the injector head of a rocket engine of a future upper stage propulsion module now counts just one component. The injector head has been simplified and reduced to what is literally an all-in-one (AiO) design.
On Ariane program, we are combining our innovative strength with the expertise of EOS. Together, we work on the additive manufacturing of an injector head for a rocket engine. The results are impressive: Significant reduction in production time and 50 % lower costs.
The results of the new injector head produced using additive manufacturing are extremely impressive: Instead of 248 parts, it consists of just one – with the same functionality, and cutting the required time down to a minimum.
The powder bed-based, industrial 3D printing technology from EOS meant that it was possible, for example, to print the 122 injection nozzles, the base and front plates, and the distribution dome with the corresponding feed pipes for the hydrogen and oxygen fuels as one integrated component. Compared with single-laser systems, the significantly higher productivity of the EOS M 400-4 multi-laser system was able to cut construction time by a factor of 3 and costs by 50 % in the example of the AiO injector head.
The project team was able to clock up a whole series of additional successes. The simplified design and the improved material properties compared with the quality of cast parts allowed the additive technology to reduce the wall thickness considerably – without losing any strength.
Cutting weight significantly also meants a further reduction in construction time and, of course, costs.
Last but not least, additive manufacturing processes allow innovation cycles to be sped up significantly. Structural improvements, design modifications, and the manufacture of test components in the development phase can be put directly into production based on CAD data without requiring engineers to spend time preparing tools, as is the case when casting parts. Industrial 3D printing thus achieves a quantum leap in terms of lead time. Whereas each iteration generally used to require around half a year, one iteration now only takes a few days. On top of this, the entire manufacturing chain now unfolds in-house on ArianeGroup's premises. In a nutshell: Mission accomplished!