Australian team successfully test-fires metal additively manufactured rocket engine

September 15, 2017

September 15, 2017


ProjectX engine during a test fire. The shock-cell structure in the rocket plume is visible (Courtesy NextAero)


A team of designers from Australia’s Amaero Engineering and Monash University have designed, manufactured and successfully test-fired a metal additively manufactured rocket engine. The ProjectX engine is built from high-strength nickel based superalloy Hasteloy X on an EOS M280 system and has a design thrust of 4kN (1000 lb).

Having successfully manufactured the world’s first AM jet engine, Amaero reportedly challenged PhD Engineering students at Monash to design an engine which made full use of the geometric complexity enabled by Additive Manufacturing. Graham Bell, Project Lead, stated, “We were able to focus on the features that boost the engine’s performance, including the nozzle geometry and the embedded cooling network. These are normally balanced against the need to consider how on earth someone is going to manufacture such a complex piece of equipment. Not so with Additive Manufacturing.”


The ProjectX engine is built from high-strength nickel based superalloy Hasteloy X on an EOS M280 system (Courtesy NextAero)


The resulting rocket engine is a complex multi-chamber aerospike design. According to Martin Jurg, an engineer with Amaero, this geometry offers some unique advantages compared to more conventional designs. “Traditional bell-shaped rockets, as seen on the Space Shuttle, work at peak efficiency at ground level. As they climb the flame spreads out reducing thrust. The aerospike design maintains its efficiency but is very hard to build using traditional technology. Using Additive Manufacturing we can create complex designs, print them, test them, tweak them, and reprint them in days instead of months.”



The PhD students involved in the project have now created a company, NextAero, to take their concept to the global aerospace industry, starting with the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, September 25-29, 2017. The development of the aerospike rocket was supported by Monash University, Amaero Engineering, and Woodside Energy through the Woodside Innovation Centre at Monash.

September 15, 2017

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

Download PDF

Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • Metal powders in Additive Manufacturing: An exploration of sustainable production, usage and recycling
  • Inside Wayland Additive: How innovation in electron beam PBF is opening new markets for AM
  • An end-to-end production case study: Leveraging data-driven machine learning and autonomous process control in AM
  • Consolidation, competition, and the cost of certification: Insight from New York’s AM Strategies 2024
  • Scandium’s impact on the Additive Manufacturing of aluminium alloys
  • AM for medical implants: An analysis of the impact of powder reuse in Powder Bed Fusion

The world of metal AM to your inbox

Don't miss any new issue of Metal AM magazine, and get the latest industry news. Sign up to our twice weekly newsletter.

Sign up

Discover our magazine archive…

The free to access Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine archive offers unparalleled insight into the world of metal Additive Manufacturing from a commercial and technological perspective through:

  • Reports on visits to leading metal AM part manufacturers and industry suppliers
  • Articles on technology and application trends
  • Information on materials developments
  • Reviews of key technical presentations from the international conference circuit
  • International industry news

All past issues are available to download as free PDFs or view in your browser.

Browse the archive

Looking for AM machines, metal powders or part manufacturing services?

Discover suppliers of these and more in our comprehensive advertisers’ index and buyer’s guide, available in the back of Metal AM magazine.

  • AM machines
  • Process monitoring & calibration
  • Heat treatment & sintering
  • HIP systems & services
  • Pre- & post-processing technology
  • Powders, powder production and analysis
  • Part manufacturers
  • Consulting, training & market data
View online
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap