Optimized, Biomimetic Design of Rocket Engines for Additive Manufacturing

K. Adriany, S. Guerin, A. Kieatiwong, A. Kochis, Z. Rogers, R. Weekes
Additive Rocket Corporation,
United States

Keywords: rocket, engine, thruster, biomimetic, fractal, optimize, optimization, additive, manufacturing, 3D printing, design


The rise of the small launch vehicle industry has led to a demand for higher performance propulsion systems at an order of magnitude less in cost than currently available solutions. Additive Manufacturing has become a key piece of technology that enables entities to meet these specifications., but current design methodologies are based on subtractive manufacturing, even most-if-not-all design tools place artificial restrictions on engineers forcing them to conform to traditional manufacturing techniques. We at the Additive Rocket Corporation have approached design from a purely additive standpoint allowing us to design with only 3D printing in mind, without the restrictions of traditional subtractive techniques. By heavily coupling our simulation-driven design with design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) heuristics we have developed highly optimized geometries that tend to be biomimetic in nature and can be mathematically described using fractals. These design methodologies are extensible to a wide range of thermo-fluidic systems, beyond just rocket engines, with the aim of efficiently moving fluid and heat through a system. Our designs cut pressure drop through closed passages by 70% allowing for lower cost piping and pumping infrastructure. By focusing on additive manufacturing we are able to consolidate components which in turn reduces weight, manufacturing time, and cost of the product. Finally, the fractal nature of the designs produces a naturally acoustically stable geometry that is capable of dampening all but the highest frequencies, while also being tuneable to more effectively reject the most unstable modes of a given system. Evolution spent thousands of years refining how to move fluid through a body, additive manufacturing allows us to extend this method to rocket engines and any high-performance thermo-fluid system.