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How are rocket nozzles made??

Is it a huge chunk of metal that they cut down or is it a "pipe" that they reshape?

Or something else??

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  • $\begingroup$ If the nozzle needs very effective cooling to resist the heat, you need a technique to include the cooling chanells. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jun 17 '17 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, I'm quite curious about the bell alone, especially in the largest engines. Welds would be weak points, but making a monolithic piece of that size, shape and precision would be a serious challenge, be it rolled/stamped or machined, or cast. Yeah, cooling pipes would be added at a later stage and SpaceX just prints the whole thing, but what about things like F-1 bell nozzles? $\endgroup$ – SF. Jun 17 '17 at 23:35
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There are many kinds of nozzles, and many ways to manufacture them. Here is a sampling.

Actively cooled nozzles such as the the SSME and F-1 nozzles were constructed by fabricating the individual tubes that made up the cooling channels (1080 tubes in the case of the SSME) and brazing them together in an autoclave. Nozzle fabrication was one of the pacing items in building an SSME; at one time I was told it took over a year to complete one nozzle.

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Modern actively-cooled engine nozzles may be constructed using channel-wall technology pioneered in Russia.

Radiatively cooled nozzles such as the shuttle OMS engines (which have been cannibalized to use on the Orion service module) are formed of high temperature metals such as columbium or niobium. They may be welded or spinformed.

enter image description here

This Merlin vacuum nozzle is clearly welded together.

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Nozzles may also be made of composite materials, such as the STS Solid Rocket Booster nozzles. They were built up of phenolic wraps and included a flexible bearing for thrust vector control.

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Cold gas thruster nozzles may be manufactured of more common materials (stainless steel) using normal manufacturing techniques.

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Your question covers a great deal of territory. I have tried to give you a general idea of the range of materials and techniques used to manufacture nozzles.

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  • $\begingroup$ While you're thinking about nozzles, any further thoughts on Why does the YF-75D nozzle material have such a strong spiral pattern? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 18 '17 at 1:48
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    $\begingroup$ I know no more about that one than I did in Nov 2016. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 18 '17 at 1:49
  • $\begingroup$ OK how about How can phenolic (resin?) handle rocket engine nozzle temperatures? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 18 '17 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ That one, I can answer. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jun 18 '17 at 3:04
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    $\begingroup$ There is another method, build the inner wall of the nozzle from copper, mill all cooling channels using CNC, fill the channels with an electrical conducting wax, build the outer wall by electrolytic deposition of nickel and remove the wax by heating. A very elegant method combining different metalls, copper for best thermal conductivity inside and nickel for mechanical stability outside. No difficult welding of a lot of tubes necessary. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jun 18 '17 at 17:05

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