Estimation of Leakage Losses in a 3-D Printed Miniature Internal Combustion Engine

Aerojet Rocketdyne, based out of El Segundo, California, develops and manufactures advanced propulsion technologies and are incorporating the usage of 3-D printing. With the rise of 3-D printing, the ability to print out plastics, metals and composites, organizations are starting to develop new manufacturing standards. The ability to automate the production of a typically laborious parts will significantly reduce the time, manpower, material loss and cost of the parts. Organizations such as NASA, United States Department of Defense and numerous others are starting to conduct research into 3-D printing. Some research includes miniature internal combustion engines, with the goal to advance the development efforts of these engines at the component level. This is done by determining the allowable 3-D printing tolerances of the parts by simple pressure leakage analysis within the combustion chamber. The goal of this research is to analyze the fluid leakage losses from the gap between the cylinder and the 3-D printed engine and provide feedback to Aerojet Rocketdyne about the findings. To achieve this, a custom experiment is designed to analyze the leakage loss vs tolerance curves at different internal pressures.