As the Additive Manufacturing matures and gains wider certification for military use, printed parts are becoming commonplace in all the product life cycle of missiles. Let us summarize two success stories, as published by their respective OEMs:
Aerojet Rocketdyne has been using Additive Manufacturing to make RL10 engines for the Atlas and Delta rockets: “Infusing this technology into full-scale rocket engines is truly transformative, as it opens up new design possibilities for our engineers and paves the way for a new generation of low-cost rocket engines,” said Jeff Haynes, the company’s Additive Manufacturing program manager. With the help of Stratasys, numerous components were 3D printed for the Atlas V ducting system in the rocket's payload fairing. The parts including brackets, nozzles, and panel close-outs, were 3D printed in ULTEM™ 9085 on a Fortus 900mc 3D Production System.
Additive Manufacturing is helping Lockheed to replace old ICBMs, as stated by John Karas, the company Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program manager: “It’s not just about 3D printing or digital technology. We’re trying to bring 21st-century tools to a 21st-century system. You have to design the system and sustain it over 50 years, so you better have really good digital backbone to do that.” Lockheed has already 3D-printed and flown a handful of small parts for other projects, and will soon open a new facility at Hill AFB (Utah) that will have a digital design center and Additive Manufacturing shop.