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August 12, 2020

Customer Highlight: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Utilizes Aerospace Manufacturing (AMI) Fasteners for H3 Launch Vehicle Engines

After over a decade of extensive R&D, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have succeeded in producing a cutting-edge rocket engine series which will be used to power the core stage of the H3 launch vehicle.  

Dubbed LE-9, the engine class’s design process emphasized reliability through simplification while also reducing program and unit construction costs.

Reliability Through Innovation

Two novel approaches in the LE-9’s design and function lend themselves to greater degrees of operational reliability and functional simplicity.  

The first approach utilized in the design and function of the engine is a simplified engine cycle. The move away from more complex burner systems has an added benefit in that production costs are also reduced as engine production is scaled. 

The second innovation sees the replacement of high-pressure gas-actuated valves with electronic drive valves (EDVs). EDV actuation generally reduces or completely precludes gas leaks, which contributes to increased reliability across the engine as a whole. The shift to EDVs did necessitate changes to the electrical architecture of the LE-9, however. EDVs require a lot of power to operate, and that power is provided by a high-voltage motor which incidentally produces a good deal of electromagnetic (EM) ‘noise’. That EM ‘noise’ interfered with the operation of various engine sensors and required extensive rewiring of grounding to reduce EM interference to acceptable levels. 

Cost Reduction Through Additive Manufacturing

One of the most exciting facets of the LE-9 program, in our humble opinion, is the use of additive manufacturing – 3D printing – in the production and assembly of the engine to reduce manufacturing costs over the unit run. In years past, it would have been unheard of to utilize 3D printing technology to produce components such as complex piping. As additive manufacturing technique and technology advances, companies far and wide, including MHI, are incorporating the practice into their production lines. In the case of LE-9 production, 3D printed components have not only reduced unit cost, but actually contribute to shortening unit build time as well. 

How Aerospace Manufacturing (AMI) Contributed to the LE-9 Project

Aerospace Manufacturing (AMI) is currently producing a line of MS9578 series fasteners for the LE-9 engine program. We are tremendously excited to be involved in such a cutting-edge space program. MHI’s H3 launch vehicle is slated to conduct its first flight towards the tail end of 2020. 

 

Procure Aerospace Fasteners from Aerospace Manufacturing (AMI)

AMI is an AS9100D:2016 and ISO:9001:2015 accredited, vertically integrated manufacturer of high strength, close tolerance aerospace pins, bolts, threaded rods, studs, screws, and built-to-print specials. Our clientele includes industry-leading OEMs like Boeing, Bombardier, DLA, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and Sikorsky.

We are a Philips Screw licensee that specializes in both large and small runs. Whether you need a prototype or large runs for your assembly line, you can rely on AMI for rapid delivery and short lead-times.

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