6K Additive’s Nickel 625 powder is being qualified for use in Agile Space Industries’ A2200 engine

PITTSBURGH and DURANGO, Colo.—6K Additive, a division of 6K Inc. that focuses on sustainable production of materials for additive manufacturing, and in-space propulsion specialist Agile Space Industries reported that Agile is pursuing certification of 6K Additive-produced Ni625 powder for customer space applications, including critical rocket parts. 6K Additive’s Ni625 powder is being certified for use at Agile’s manufacturing facility, according to a release from 6K Additive.

The first parts to be produced will be used in 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 additive manufacturing, the engine was designed to weigh just 5.9kg and produce 500-lbf of thrust, underscoring the benefits of lightweighting with additive manufacturing while delivering tremendous power, 6K Additive said in the release.

“By weight, 85 percent 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,” said Agile Space Industries Director of Additive Technology Kyle Metsger, in the release. “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, the release said.

“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,” Metsger continued. “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.”

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 reportedly can throttle from 50 percent to 100 percent thrust in under 650 milliseconds, making it “the perfect engine for heavily demanding maneuvering sequences that lunar missions require,” according to the release.

“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,” said 6K Additive President Frank Roberts, in the release. “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.”

Agile Space Industries is a provider of in-space propulsion products that specializes in hypergolic chemical systems. The company has expertise in the design of chemical-propulsion rocket thrusters.