Taking 3D-printing to new heights, NASA has just created a rocket engine injector using the technology, and it passed their test with flying colors.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has teamed up with NASA to create a 3D-printed rocket engine injector. You can imagine that such a components needs to be both reliable and hardy, and that’s why NASA employed a technique slightly more advanced than what your average 3D-printed figure is made with.
The process NASA used in making the injector is called “additive manufacturing”, which involves blasting metal powder with a laser until it melts into a single component. NASA scientists believe the technique may be used to create entire spacecrafts in the future.
The component has passed NASA’s test
The benefits of this manufacturing method are many: It’s faster, taking only about half the time needed to make a component using traditional techniques and in addition, costs are only about 30% of that of conventional assembly. It also allows for easy spacecraft manufacture in space, removing the need for extremely expensive orbital launches. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, it reduces the number of components needed, thereby reducing the number of components that can fail.
So far there are no plans for testing out the 3D-printed rocket injector until some time in 2017; there’s still work to be done on it. For right now though, things are moving on according to plan, and the technology seems to be fruitful.