Research & Development

Unleashing Innovation

ERC research scientists and engineers develop cutting-edge technologies that ultimately become advanced military or spaceflight capabilities. Whether it’s basic research, applied research, or developmental research, we work with our customers to create and refine capabilities, technologies, and processes that protect our troops, guard our national security, and advance exploration.

Our hands-on research and development have been key to achieving rapid advances in areas as diverse as additive manufacturing, microfluidics, solid propellent formulation, automated nondestructive testing, hypervelocity impact testing, friction stir welding, and even science experiments on the International Space Station. As a result, we help our Defense and Space customers advance technology, achieve better performance, reduce risk, improve process efficiency, and cut costs.

How We Do It

Making an Impact

What happens when something traveling at hypersonic speed strikes a manned vehicle or a satellite in space? ERC is part of a team at the Impact Testing Facility at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center studying the effects of high-velocity impacts. Our engineers and scientists work with various gun systems to simulate impacts ranging from rain, hail, and sand to micrometeoroids and orbital debris. This critical work is helping advance materials science, make space flight safer, and provide the Department of Defense with an invaluable resource for testing and developing materials used in missile systems.

Thinking Inside the Box

Using current industry practices, it can take up to 20 years to achieve full-rate production of new and improved solid rocket motors. That’s why the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is taking a fresh approach to developing and manufacturing solid rockets to meet 21st-century requirements. AFRL’s Rocket Factory In-a-Box program combines revolutionary design and component manufacturing techniques to deliver a mobile solid rocket production capability that will dramatically shorten the time needed to design, prototype, and produce solid rocket propulsion systems.

ERC engineers and scientists work side by side with the Air Force to support this ambitious research and development project. Our work in Phase One of the project includes basic research on the microfluid reactor components needed for success. This includes precision ingredients, resonant acoustic mixing of solid rocket propellant, additive manufacturing such as 3D printing of solid rocket propellant and insulation, and direct filament winding. When completed, the Rocket Factory In-a-Box production-on-demand program will mobilize, stabilize, and fortify the U.S. rocket motor supply base while it improves safety and reliability.