NASA Tests 3-D Printed Engine Components
3-D printing isn’t just for toys and plastic models of your head. Witness a hot fire of NASA’s newest design for rocket engine injectors, 3-D printed to up performance in a way that traditional manufacturing of the parts couldn’t attain.
The agency, which tested the experimental injectors last month at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., used a type of 3-D printing called direct laser melting. To make the parts, a machine fires a laser at metal powder under the direction of a computer design program. This deposits layers of the metal one on top of the other until the part is complete.
NASA says the technique is letting engineers build the injector out of just two parts instead of the 163 formerly needed using traditional manufacturing methods.