6K Additive, a division of AM material producer 6K Inc. and Agile Space Industries are working on the certification of Ni625 powder for space applications including critical rocket parts.

6K Additive’s Ni625 powder could help produce parts for Agile’s A2200 bipropellant hypergolic engine. The engines are powered by a pressure-fed hypergolic bipropellant, which does not require ignition as the hydrazine derivative fuel, M20, and MON3 oxidizer combust on contact. Leveraging AM, the engine was designed to weigh just 5.9kg and produce 500-lbf of thrust, underscoring the benefits of lightweighting with AM while delivering tremendous power.

Kyle Metsger, Director of Additive Technology at Agile, explained: “By weight, 85% of our engine components are additively manufactured, meaning we rely heavily on AM powders that can withstand the extreme temperatures and forces generated during take-off and flight. 6K Additive allows us to additively manufacture using high-quality powders that are required for our critical applications, while also helping us meet our environmental goals through their recycling program and sustainably manufactured powders. 6K Additive can deliver extremely consistent powder that allows our production line to run the long build times required for these complex components.”

Traditional development cycles for aerospace components can be more than two decades. However, by harnessing the speed and flexibility of AM, Agile is able to compress development time down to 12 months. “A year-long development cycle still sounds like a very long time in many industries, but we are showing the primes in the aerospace industry what the future looks like. Moving to the larger TruPrint 5000 machine gave us the ability to qualify the new parameters for the machine and material simultaneously. In this way, AM allows us to be ‘Agile’ in name and practice,” continued Kyle Metsger.

Agile’s A2200 engines will be used on a Lunar lander vehicle. The A2200 engine was developed to provide maximum performance on demanding missions, with a specific impulse of more than 318 seconds. Using an integral pintle sleeve throttling mechanism, the engine is capable of deep throttling, providing a smooth ride and fine control for a variety of missions. The engine can throttle from 50 to 100% thrust in under 650 milliseconds. Making it the perfect engine for heavily demanding maneuvering sequences that lunar missions require.

Frank Roberts, President at 6K Additive, commented: “We are always excited to partner with customers like Agile who leverage our high-quality powders to produce critical rocket parts to land on the moon. The fact that we can enable space exploration while continuing to lead the way with sustainability at home on Earth is the best of both worlds. Agile has a cradle-to-grave mentality around its products, and having 6K Additive supply the company with high-quality, sustainably produced Ni625 and provide an established waste stream to help with its environmental stewardship speaks to our mission of going beyond expectations for our customers.”

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