3D Printed Rocket Breaks Thrust Record
Kyle Maxey posted on August 29, 2013 |
NASAs new DMLS rocket injector prototype 

3d printing, NASA, rocket, injector, Last month NASA announced the successful test of a 3D printed rocket injector. On the heels of that announcement, scientists at the agency now report that a similar 3D printed component generated an awesome 20,000 pounds of thrust.

Since the decommissioning of the Space Shuttle, NASA has been developing new systems to bring cargo and astronauts into space.  The main projects in this mission relate to the Space Launch System, a rocket meant to explore deep space.

Like all products, NASA’s next-generation rocket has to be made with cost in mind, so designers and engineers looked to 3D printing as way to bring down the cost of prototyping and production. Key to this effort was reducing the number of high precision components required by a rocket’s engine. One part that could use some work was the SLS’s fuel injector, which is tasked with mixing a number of propellants through its 28 chambers and channels.

According to NASA, “The [rocket injector] was manufactured using selective laser melting. This method built up layers of nickel-chromium alloy powder to make the complex, subscale injector with its 28 elements for channeling and mixing propellants.” Because the new rocket injector was made using laser sintering, designers were able to reduce the number of parts in the injector from 115 to just 2, making the component easier to assemble and cheaper as well.

But the good news didn’t end there.

After test firing their prototype and crunching the numbers, NASA engineers were ecstatic to learn that the new injector produced 10 times more thrust than any previous 3D printed prototype. “This successful test of a 3-D printed rocket injector brings NASA significantly closer to proving this innovative technology can be used to reduce the cost of flight hardware," said Chris Singer, director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

With 3D printers and components being prepped by both NASA and private industry to use in space, you’ve got wonder-- How big is the Space 3D printing market?

Images and Video Courtesy of NASA

Recommended For You