Advanced Manufacturing Techniques for Liquid Rocket Engine Components

Period of Performance: 05/28/2003 - 01/28/2004

$100K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Polymer Technologies, Inc.
35 Monhegan Street
Clifton, NJ 07013
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Polymer Technologies Inc. (PTI) proposes an innovative program to develop and demonstrate low cost, powder metal injection molding (MIM) and sintering technologies to manufacture superalloy and metal matrix composite components for liquid rocket engine applications where net shape processing confers a cost advantage for small lot sizes and low production rates. The technology is based on aqueous based agar binder system, originally developed by Honeywell and now licensed by Polymer Technologies, that is now offered commercially in stainless steel and nickel based superalloy IN718. The aqueous binder system is proposed for this work because it represents quantum advancement compared with conventional wax/polymeric binder systems since binder removal issues, which are barriers to widespread adoption of the Metal Injection Molding technology, are eliminated in this system. The aqueous binder system allows use of low cost stereolithography (SLA) epoxy tooling for production of small quantities of parts. Furthermore, the green molded parts can be readily recycled if desired by simply adding water . This is a distinct advantage for complex components made using expensive superalloy powders. The proposed program will perform modifications to the binder system as necessary for injection molding of high strength superalloy (e.g. Haynes 214) compatible with hydrogen and oxygen environment and demonstrate an injection molded prototype component using low cost SLA molds. 3-D Mold Flow analysis will be performed to design the mold. The prototype components will be characterized for mechanical properties. An estimate of the cost reduction and repeatability of the process will be made. The metal injection molding technology for superalloys developed in this program will be commercialized by Polymer Technologies Inc. (PTI). PTI will manufacture the superalloy components for liquid rocket engine developed in the program. PTI will work with US powder manufacturers in securing the supply of superalloy powders as defined in the program, for injection molding. The evaluation and application of the components will be done in close collaboration with Aerojet Corporation. The ultimate beneficiary will be US Air Force.