Working with British chemical propulsion developer Protolaunch, HiETA Technologies, Bristol, UK, has additively manufactured the combustion chamber and nozzle for the company’s reusable 10kN HILBERT rocket engine. This engine acts as a testbed to test and validate key performance metrics that underpin the thermodynamic cycle under development by Protolaunch, which aims to eliminate the need for complex turbomachinery.
Protolaunch develops rocket engines for small launch applications; as a company, they also work with the European Space Agency and international launch partners to scale up and tailor propulsion solutions ready for launch. The company realised the potential of AM to reduce the part count of its overall system and enable complex internal flow paths within the parts themselves. It required two large parts with complex internal geometry and challenging wall thickness requirements to be produced at short notice.
The team of engineers at HiETA were able to advise and make the necessary design adjustments to allow these parts to benefit from the Additive Manufacturing process. HiETA’s two sites in Bristol offer a comprehensive range of machines, including four Renishaw RenAM 500Q AM machines, coupled with post-processing facilities which offered the flexibility and capability to give Protolaunch the speed and experience needed to meet its tight deadline as well as quality expectations.