Jul.12, 2013

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne recently finished testing a rocket engine injector made through additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. What you see below is the liquid oxygen/gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly built using 3D printing technology being hot-fire tested at NASA Glenn Research Center's Rocket Combustion Laboratory in Cleveland.

Image Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center

It is claimed the technology may lead to more efficient manufacturing of rocket engines, saving American companies time and money.

Rocket engine components are complex machined pieces that require significant labor and time to produce. The injector is one of the most expensive components of an engine, according to Tyler Hickman, who led the testing at Glenn.

This highly critical rocket engine component was created using selective laser melting manufacturing technology - a method that employs high-powered laser beams to melt and fuse fine metallic powders into 3D structures.

"NASA recognizes that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by 'printing' tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington.

This type of injector manufactured with traditional processes would take more than a year to make, but with these new processes it can be produced in less than four months, with a 70 percent reduction in cost.

Additive manufacturing is more often to be used to make less critical hardware, this 3D printed rocket injector represents a significant advancement in application of additive manufacturing. And if tests continue to go this well, NASA could soon be ready to move on to demonstrate the feasibility of developing full-size, additively manufactured parts, said Carol Tolbert, manager of the Manufacturing Innovation Project at Glenn.

The project is supported by the Game Changing Technology Program in NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions.

Task lead Tyler Hickman, in red shirt, and technicians inspect the rocket injector assembly as it's installed in the Rocket Combustion Laboratory at NASA's Glenn Research Center, Cleveland | Image Credit: NASA Glenn Research Center


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Les Roark wrote at 7/22/2013 1:19:27 AM:

Quote: "This type of injector manufactured with traditional processes would take more than a year to make" The author must have meant "develop" and make. Surely. So, does the cost savings translate to savings for a manufactured batch of a model?

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