Calibration and Testing of Rapid Prototyped Nozzles for Guidance and Control
Lyne, Christopher Tucker
Additive manufacturing of plastics, commonly referred to as Rapid Prototyping, is an emerging field with the potential to improve the performance of guidance and control systems for small satellites. Small-scale nozzles for low temperature thrusters can be easily manufactured using rapid prototyping, leading to a reduction in cost compared to traditional manufacturing techniques. This document presents a case study in the design of a cold gas thruster nozzle for guidance and control, and experimentally assesses the performance of the nozzle. Using the coefficient of thrust as a performance metric, a study is conducted to compare the performance of the rapid prototyped nozzle to a comparable machined nozzle. It was shown that the rapid prototyped nozzle outperformed the machined nozzle in all the test cases, and the primary sources of off nominal performance are identified as surface roughness and viscous effects. This favorable performance demonstrates that rapid prototyping is a viable means of prototyping nozzles for guidance and control systems for small satellites, and potentially for fabricating the final hardware for Space applications.