AAE 535 Propulsion DBT students develop 3D printer for hybrid grains

Event Date: December 15, 2014
A group of students has developed a 3D printer for hybrid grains as part of the spring 2014 AAE 535 Propulsion Design, Build, Test course. The course, taught by Dr. Timothee Pourpoint, associate professor in AAE, is intended to provide students with information on the design requirements, standard methods, and tools to develop propulsion systems.

A group of students has developed a 3D printer for hybrid grains as part of the spring 2014 AAE 535 Propulsion Design, Build, Test course. The course, taught by Dr. Timothée Pourpoint, associate professor in AAE, is intended to provide students with information on the design requirements, standard methods, and tools to develop propulsion systems.

The final project completed by the students consisted of a 3D printer for hybrid grains, which printed a 9” long grain in 72 layers. After printing, this grain was test fired on November 29 at the Zucrow Laboratories, demonstrating the basic operation of the printer.

Pressure data from the test demonstrated the design of the printer with a flat steady state operation at 300 psia. Future work with the 3D printer will make use of the capability to place two distinct powered additives within the paraffin grain, which will allow designers to vary the amount of thrust generated during a flight.

“To my knowledge, this is the very first ‘3D printed’ paraffin wax grain and the first custom-made 3D printer for hybrid rocket propellants,” notes Dr. Pourpoint.

The student AAE 535 project was made possible with the financial support of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The resulting project will be presented at the upcoming American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum 2015 to be held January 5-9 in Kissimmee, Florida.

Photo (top): School of AAE’s graduate student Oluwatobi Busari (left) and senior Nicholas Eisenhauer (right) prepare the hybrid grain for the 3D paraffin printer as part of AAE 535. Other students involved in the project are: Alix Crandell, Michael Creech, Michael King, Austin Link, Sarah Marx, and Chris Zaseck. Jason Gabl, Research Engineer in AAE, also helped with the printer development.

Photo (bottom): Hybrid grain test fire.

To view video of the AAE 535 3D printer hybrid grain test fire, visit: http://youtu.be/OcLO5G4iIY8

Course information for AAE 535: Propulsion Design, Build, Test can be found at: https://engineering.purdue.edu/AAE/Academics/Courses/Descriptions/AAE535

Dr. Pourpoint’s areas of research and teaching can be found here: https://engineering.purdue.edu/AAE/People/Faculty/showFaculty?resource_id=23845

To learn more about AIAA SciTech, visit: http://www.aiaa-scitech.org/