The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was able to test their first rocket engine component made through 3D printing. Yesterday, NASA subjected their new rocket engine injector to a series of several high-pressure fire tests that involves liquid oxygen and gaseous hydrogen. Since the test was successful, NASA was able to prove that additive manufacturing used for 3D printing could help build the next generation of rockets at lower costs.
The additive manufacturing process uses metallic powder that is traced in patterns by lasers. This process is similar to how 3D printing works, but it uses laser beams. Generally rocket engine injectors are one of the most expensive components to produce. Costs can be cut by over 70% and the development time can be reduced. NASA has plans to scale-up this process going forward. The printed components will not be fully used in a live test flight until 2017.
“NASA recognizes that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by ‘printing’ tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington. “3-D manufacturing offers opportunities to optimize the fit, form and delivery systems of materials that will enable our space missions while directly benefiting American businesses here on Earth.”
[Image Credit: The Verge]