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China Develops Faster Hypersonic Weapon Manufacturing

Chinese scientists have built a critical hypersonic weapon engine component using a method they believe will allow faster weapons manufacturing.

South China Morning Post, citing a paper published in the Journal of Propulsion Technology, wrote that Chinese engineers can now manufacture titanium alloy components far more quickly and of better quality than that of traditional methods using the near-net-shaping hot isostatic pressing technique, “allowing them (components) to go straight from the furnace to the engine assembly line without further processing.”

Ramjet Engine Air Intel Manufacturing

The engineers used the technique to manufacture a ramjet engine’s air intel and other components. The meter-long part is designed to take air into the engine and protect it “from the turbulence that could extinguish burning fuel,” the outlet added.  

Manufacturers have been building inlets by welding their different parts together, followed by reprocessing, which is expensive, time-consuming, and provides inconsistent results. 

Scientists from the Aerospace Research Institute of Materials and Processing Technology put together finely powdered titanium and rare earth elements into a steel mold “from which the air is pumped out before it is put into an oven filled with inert gas.”

“When heated, the gas expands and compresses the mold, squeezing the titanium particles together and forcing them to crystallize and merge into one another.” It takes about three hours of pressing to make an inlet, the paper wrote.

Civilian Use

Though the Chinese have been building aircraft and rockets using the method, the authors revealed that the military was skeptical of using it for hypersonic weapons production, fearing “unexpected gaps, gas bubbles or polluting elements could occur during the process and weaken the product.”

The paper added that the scientists have also worked around the challenges of producing “perfectly round grains of titanium powder in different sizes with rare earth elements” while using the method and are looking forward to applying the technique for civilian aircraft manufacturing also.

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