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Aerospace 2017, 4(2), 17; doi:10.3390/aerospace4020017

Design and Performance of Modular 3-D Printed Solid-Propellant Rocket Airframes

1
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Alabama in Huntsville, OKT N274, 301 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35899, USA
2
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering and Engineering Management, University of Alabama in Huntsville, OKT N143, 301 Sparkman Drive, Huntsville, AL 35899, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Konstantinos Kontis
Received: 23 February 2017 / Revised: 18 March 2017 / Accepted: 20 March 2017 / Published: 23 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Collection Feature Papers in Aerospace)

Abstract

Solid-propellant rockets are used for many applications, including military technology, scientific research, entertainment, and aerospace education. This study explores a novel method for design modularization of the rocket airframes, utilizing additive manufacturing (AM) technology. The new method replaces the use of standard part subsystems with complex multi-function parts to improve customization, design flexibility, performance, and reliability. To test the effectiveness of the process, two experiments were performed on several unique designs: (1) ANSYS CFX® simulation to measure the drag coefficients, the pressure fields, and the streamlines during representative flights and (2) fabrication and launch of the developed designs to test their flight performance and consistency. Altitude and 3-axis stability was measured during the eight flights via an onboard instrument package. Data from both experiments demonstrated that the designs were effective, but varied widely in their performance; the sources of the performance differences and errors were documented and analyzed. The modularization process reduced the number of parts dramatically, while retaining good performance and reliability. The specific benefits and caveats of using extrusion-based 3-D printing to produce airframe components are also demonstrated. View Full-Text
Keywords: modular design; aircraft design; solid-propellant rocket; design of experiments; additive manufacturing; fused deposition modeling modular design; aircraft design; solid-propellant rocket; design of experiments; additive manufacturing; fused deposition modeling
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hernandez, R.N.; Singh, H.; Messimer, S.L.; Patterson, A.E. Design and Performance of Modular 3-D Printed Solid-Propellant Rocket Airframes. Aerospace 2017, 4, 17.

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