Additive Manufactured Gun Propellants from UV Curable Nitrocellulose based Resins

Dr. Zachary Doorenbos | Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake



This project will focus on the functionalization of nitrocellulose (NC) to allow for its use for the additive manufacturing (AM) of gun propellants. Successful functionalization may lead to future efforts on reducing production waste and increasing material performance through the use of additive manufacturing to meet the Department of Defense‚Äôs (DoD) current and future mission requirements. This project's objective is to develop a new material based on a traditional gun propellant material, nitrocellulose (NC), that can be used in future efforts in additive manufacturing techniques for the production of unique grain geometries and reduce manufacturing waste. 

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Technical Approach

The effort will be accomplished through the functionalization of nitrocellulose materials with acrylate and methacrylate groups on the non-nitrated OH groups. The functionalized nitrocellulose material will then be characterized to provide an understanding of the polymerization reaction that occurs when the functionalized NC and a nitrate ester plasticized resin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Of particular interest is how the degree of functionalization and random nature of the material will impact various properties, such as stress-strain behavior and brittle fracture/toughness, in contrast to more ordered urethane polymer systems which are well characterized.

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The materials and technology developments will benefit the DoD by providing a new method for the manufacturing of gun propellants under future development efforts. This technology is expected to eliminate the use of solvents and significantly reduce the amount of waste generated when compared to traditional propellant grain production. In addition, printing the propellant will eliminate man-in-the-loop production operations and allow for new propellant configurations to be developed for increased performance in end application.

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Points of Contact

Principal Investigator

Dr. Zachary Doorenbos

Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division China Lake

Phone: 760-939-0202