The proposed additive manufacturing technology provides significant benefit to a wide range of NASA programs including propulsion, satellite structures, and fluid systems. The proposed technology promises to benefit a number of NASA missions that require high performance, low cost, innovative propulsion systems. This includes Mars sample return missions, asteroid redirect, and propulsion for any of a number of earth science mission satellites. The ability to include a conventionally machined part in additively manufactured products, include high temperature nozzle inserts, or include insulation into thruster walls, can both increase capabilities and lower cost for all of these programs. Any NASA satellite program is a strong market for the proposed technology. The proposed innovation allows the use of low weight materials, such as aluminum, for an additively manufactured bulk part with high strength materials included into the printed structure at the sites of applied loads. The high strength material then distributes the load into the low weight part. This technology, when incorporated into satellite bus structures can lower weight, reduce cost, and enhance capability. Satellite buses for deep space missions where propulsion requirements mean that mass and efficiency is highly important can especially benefit. Fluid components, such as valves and cavitating flow elements which are widely used across NASA programs can also leverage this promising technology.
Commercial satellite propulsion and and launch vehicles can benefit directly from the proposed innovation in much the same way as NASA programs. Innovative nozzle, injector, and thrust chamber designs can lower the cost of launch vehicles, decreasing the cost of access to space. Beyond the space-related applications, these technical innovations will find a wide variety of applications in terrestrial niches. Specific examples include (but are certainly not limited to): -An inconel inert in a titanium vessel (under NDA) will improve performance in a series of commercialized items in production for the firearms industry -Medical devices that could benefit from the combination of weight bearing titanium wear surfaces with a porous ceramic for easier skeletal integration -Jet engine fuel nozzles manufactured similar to the rocket engine injectors of this SBIR. GE recently introduced additively manufactured nozzles which spurred a $3 billion investment for commercialization of this part