New dimensions in space
An algorithmically engineered rocket engine
Published 15 November 2021

Project Breakdown
Industry: Aerospace
Product: Rocket Combustion Engine

The Vision

With Hyperganic Core, you don’t just create one object. You create a process that automatically designs objects of a similar type. How the object will look like depends on the environment, the parameters you feed into the algorithm. The variations are infinite. The rocket engine is one example of what is possible using this process. It starts with numbers in spreadsheet and results in a complex physical part that’s engineered without human interaction.

This software paradigm will create significant impact within even the most technical fields of design and engineering. With that vision in mind, the Hyperganic team created a rocket engine demonstrator using an entirely algorithmic approach.

Achieving the Vision with Algorithmic Engineering

From previous work with space companies, the team understands the complexity of creating rocket combustion chambers with conformal cooling. That is exactly what an algorithmic approach is best suited for. An Excel spreadsheet that stores a spline curve describing the inside of the combustion chamber is the starting point. There were no CAD files, no existing models, just data stored in a spreadsheet, plus the algorithms that interpret the data to generate the functional parts of the engine.

With this minimal starting point, the team built the algorithm that generates the actual geometry. The engine is created from top-to-bottom, laying out channels that transport the cryogenic oxidizer first down around the chamber, cooling the inner wall that is exposed to the burning fuel, and then back up again in an outer layer of channels, for later injection into the chamber itself.

Modifications of the metal structure itself were made effortlessly, thanks to Hyperganic’s capability to precisely control the process parameters for every point in space. The inside of the chamber is printed very densely, using high laser power, whereas the outside becomes almost porous to keep the weight down.

The Challenges of Traditional Engineering

The biggest challenge of traditional engineering is the number of possible solutions to a problem. Combined with the almost unlimited freedom of shapes and structures possible in Industrial 3D Printing, engineers and designers face a formidable challenge. 

Traditionally, engineers split work into many small parts that are treated separately. But this stands in the way of coming up with a solution that is globally optimized. Most of today’s objects are an assembly of subcomponents, which are often individually over-engineered for the task at hand. 

With Additive Manufacturing and Industrial 3D Printing, we are starting on a clean slate. We can build functionally integrated objects using A.I. software components instead of assembling physical disjointed parts.

The Algorithmic Engineering Approach

In the Hyperganic approach, you are not designing one object in a linear fashion. Instead, you create a process that results in an object. You are creating DNA, not a blueprint. This process can result in objects that look radically different, depending on the input you give.

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