1/17/2017 | 1 MINUTE READ

3D-Printed Prototype of Jet Engine Part Helps Win Contract Extension

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A metal prototype of a hypersonic jet engine part will help an SBIR contract continue.


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Reaction Systems recently won a two-year, $750,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract extension with the help of ADAPT, the Alliance for the Development of Additive Processing Technologies, a research consortium focused on developing technologies to accelerate the certification and qualification of 3D-printed metal parts.

Reaction Systems is involved in a Phase II SBIR project with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop a hypersonic jet engine part. In seeking out specialized additive manufacturing expertise, Reaction Systems turned to founding member company Faustson and ADAPT to create a prototype and keep moving the project forward.

Faustson worked with Reaction Systems to make the part in a few days on its Concept Laser machine. The R&D team at Mines then used the ADAPT lab equipment to characterize the part to show it met design specifications. The result was a two-year extension of the Reaction Systems contract to continue work on the part.

David Wickham, Reaction Systems’ president and senior project manager, explained, “The part has an intricate interior channel that can only be made this way. As it moves forward, our production volume will grow, and we’ll need ADAPT’s expertise to show the part can withstand rigorous conditions. They’ve already demonstrated they can provide useful data to help us do that, and membership helps us expand our capabilities and expertise in using catalysts on complex surfaces.”

 “We had no experience with additive manufacturing, and started looking around to find the expertise and resources we needed,” noted Reaction Systems COO Jeffrey Engel. “A contact at Mines connected us with founding member Faustson and ADAPT. That enabled us to quickly manufacture the part with the internal geometry it requires, something we could not have done with traditional machining techniques.”

Heidi Hostetter, ADAPT industry board chair and VP of Faustson, said, “AFRL was right when they asked it to be made additively. A complex part, accelerated schedule, and low volume was tailor-made for 3D metal printing.”

Small manufacturers can’t justify the expense required to adopt emerging additive metal technology without a resource like ADAPT. Real-time monitoring costs hundreds of thousands of dollars they simply don’t have. ADAPT membership and access to shared resources, expertise and peer organizations with complementary needs and services make it affordable for Faustson, Reaction Systems and other small manufacturers to successfully invest in this emerging technology, the organization says.