3D printing really is letting people literally shoot for the stars as NASA announced
on September 1 that they had successfully tested new 3D printed rocket parts.
Engineers designed "the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency" and "pushed the limits of technology." The part was called an injector, "a highly complex part that sends propellant into the engine -- with design features that took advantage of 3-D printing."
Conventional manufacturing would have entailed
163 parts. 3D printing made it a mere TWO parts.
"We wanted to go a step beyond just testing an injector and demonstrate how 3-D printing could revolutionize rocket designs for increased system performance," said Chris Singer, director of Marshall's Engineering Directorate. "The parts performed exceptionally well during the tests."
According to the press release, the injectors were tested for 5 seconds each. The complex geometric design enabled oxygen and hydrogen to swirl together and combust at around 1,400 pounds per square inch and temperatures up to 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The parts were manufactured and tested in collaboration with two companies: Solid Concepts, and Directed Manufacturing.
"One of our goals is to collaborate with a variety of companies and establish standards for this new manufacturing process," said Marshall propulsion engineer Jason Turpin. "We are working with industry to learn how to take advantage of additive manufacturing in every stage of space hardware construction from design to operations in space. We are applying everything we learn about making rocket engine components to the Space Launch System and other space hardware."
The 3D printing concept has worked wonders for NASA, and has enabled the agency to revolutionize the speed at which modifications could be made.
"Having an in-house additive manufacturing capability allows us to look at test data, modify parts or the test stand based on the data, implement changes quickly and get back to testing," said Nicholas Case, a propulsion engineer leading the testing. "This speeds up the whole design, development and testing process and allows us to try innovative designs with less risk and cost to projects."
3D printing is certainly taking us to new heights, and that's awesome. I hope to see more cool things tested like this!
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