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Volvo Aero’s sandwich space technology passes important milestone


Volvo Aero is fabricating an Ariane 5 Vulcain 2 engine full-scale nozzle in its proprietary sandwich technology. Work has proceeded highly favorably and now an important milestone has been passed since both the upper and lower laser-welded cones were completed with good results. The new technology is expected to be demonstrated in a ground fullscale hot fireing in spring 2008.
On assignment from the Swedish National Space Board, Volvo Aero is developing a new demonstrator nozzle for testing on the Ariane 5 Vulcain 2 engine. The aim is to prepare a new nozzle technology for potential Ariane 5 evolution or future lancher in order to enhance robustness and reduce the price.

The core of Volvo Aero’s patented sandwich technology is the laser-welded channel wall. It is this process that is now being verified at full scale with highly favorable results. Volvo Aero is conducting an industrialization project under contract to the French space agency (CNES), with FORCE Technology in Denmark as a subsupplier to Volvo Aero.

The entire development is being carried out in close cooperation with Volvo Aero’s partners from Vulcain 2: Astrium and Snecma as well as CNES and ESA.

An entirely new production cell has been established as part of the project. When the welding project in the new laser-welding cell was recently completed so highly successfully, it could be noted that the results from welding of the first two nozzle walls were superior to earlier prototypes. In principle, 2,160 welds over a total of about three kilometers were welded entirely fault free in a very short time.

Volvo Aero has long been convinced that the new nozzle technology would be included in tomorrow’s space rockets. Roland Rydén, project leader for the new nozzle, explains:

“There are many advantages with the new sandwich design. Since production is based on simpler raw materials, sheet metal and forgings, and uses standard processes, forming, machining and welding, we gain shorter lead times and at the same time a design that is lighter in weight, reliable, simple, robust and cost efficient.”


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