Masten Space Systems, a California-based aerospace startup specialized in vertical takeoff and vertical landing rockets, has successfully demonstrated an electric fuel pump 3D printed by Elementum 3D and made out of its A6061-RAM2 alloy. The 3D printed e-pump marks a significant step ahead in the development of a compact, high-power density and high-performance electric pump.
The e-pump in question was designed by Masten Space Systems and P3 Technologies, a Florida-based developer of propulsion and turbomachinery equipment. The pump is part of Masten’s mission for the NASA Artemis Program, which has the goal of bringing humans back to the moon. Last month, Master Space Systems was chosen by NASA to deploy eight payloads to the moon’s South Pole in 2022: a major step in laying the foundation for human expeditions to the moon as soon as 2024.
Based in Colorado, Elementum 3D is a specialist in the research and development of innovative 3D printed metal, ceramic and composite materials for additive manufacturing. Its commercially available A6061-RAM2 alloy, used for the e-pump, is especially well suited to the aerospace industry.
Speaking to us last year, President of Elementum 3D Dr. Jacob Nuechterlein said: “There are a couple of reasons that the A6061-RAM2 is really popular. The first is that there’s name recognition—it is based on one of the most common aluminum alloys used, 6061. There are companies that have 90% to 100% of their parts made from A6061, which I think is part of it as well. If you’re designing a part you already have the option in different design software programs to select A6061 because it has been used for manufacturing. In general, the material is highly versatile due to good corrosion characteristics, high ductility, and good weldability.”
The e-pump 3D printed by Elementum 3D for Masten Space Systems delivered on those fronts, while also offering the advantage of cost and weight savings and superior performance compared to the turbine-driven pumps typically used for propulsion systems.