Oct.6, 2012

Have you ever thought of making your own rocket engine? How much will it cost for such a complex design? In conventional machining techniques, labor and other costs play heavily. However Rocket Moonlighting is trying to 3D print a rocket engine using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) process in 15-5 stainless steel. "As a result, the cost of a part is generally proportional to the volume of metal in the part. " Rocket Moonlighting says.

Hack-a-Day writes,

the engine is quite small, but still fueled just like any other proper rocket engine that makes it into Earth orbit. The fuel is propane, the oxidizer is NO2, and the entire device is ignited with an automotive spark plug. Of course this was an expensive proposition; a motor with 12 pounds of thrust cost somewhere in the range of four figures.

In the photo above the first chamber is 10 lbf thrust, the second 100 lbf, and the third 1000 lbf.

Because of "the square cube law" the chamber on the right only has about 10 times as much metal material as the chamber on the far left - despite having 100 times the thrust. Do to the wonder additive manufacturing, we could estimate that if the 10 lbf chamber cost $1, then the cost of the 100 lbf chamber would only be about $10. In real numbers, that means a 1000 lb chamber could probably be printed using DMLS for less than $10,000 - a pretty significant price point compared to other manufacturing techniques.

The videos below showing the engine in action and a few tests.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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John wrote at 3/11/2013 11:00:51 AM:

@Ben, there is no misspelling. The 1000lbf chamber would cost 10 times the 10lbf chamber because it only uses 10 times the material. This is due to the square cube law, as was mentioned, but it seemed you missed that.

Anja wrote at 10/7/2012 3:19:31 AM:

Thanks, corrected.

Ben wrote at 10/6/2012 6:37:19 PM:

This is incredibly cool. But I think there's a misspelling. "we could estimate that if the 10 lbf chamber cost $1, then the cost of the 1000 lbf chamber would only be about $10." I think you meant the 100 lbf chamber would cost $10.

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