Success Story

Optimization of Manufacturing Process for Missile Component Reduces Costs by 90%

Replaced Solid Rhenium Parts with Rhenium Coated Parts

Thrust propulsion in tactical missiles is controlled by a pintle/throat configuration, which is designed to maximize the thrust within the rocket motor to successfully propel the missile. To date, pintle/throat configurations have been manufactured out of rhenium, a metal with high thermal and mechanical properties.

The very proprieties that make rhenium the best acceptable, high-temperature, and corrosion-resistant material for energy-managed tactical propulsions systems also make machining costly due to the production time involved.

NCDMM, along with Plasma Processes, Inc. (PPI), and the Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), worked to optimize the manufacturing process in order to reduce the cost of the pintle/throat combinations by replacing solid rhenium with rhenium coatings fabricated by Plasma Processes’ El-Form™ electrodeposition process.

Producing lightweight rhenium coated pintle/throat combinations

By determining the minimum rhenium coating thickness per component, NCDMM, PPI, and AMRDEC were successful in optimizing the processes to achieve the goal of producing lightweight rhenium coated pintle/throat combinations with a 90% reduction in costs. Other improvements integral to the success of the new machining process included adjustments in pintle/throat size and geometry; an increase in deposition rates; and reduction/elimination of post-deposition machining.

Additionally, annual production of pintle/throat combinations increased by 200% and an 80% reduction in weight per combination was achieved.