3D printing is being taken to new height by NASA. 3D technology is futuristic technology and will be finding wide use in space industry. Engineers from the NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama have tested a complex rocket engine parts. The engine parts have been created by 3D technology.
3D printing is a revolutionary technology which literally creates any design which includes the simplest to the most complex designs. 3D printing envisages creating anything as one entity instead of it being created as independent components which are then joined together. The dye which is used in conventional printing is replaced by metallic powder which are sprayed layer by layer and then heated by laser to form the parts of the object.
The 3D printed injector was a part of the rocket engine and it mixed oxygen and hydrogen to burn at temperatures above 6000 degrees and also created more than 20,000 pounds of thrust.
Director of Marshall’s Engineering Directorate Chris Singer said, “We wanted to go a step beyond just testing an injector and demonstrate how 3D printing could revolutionize rocket designs for increased system performance. The parts performed exceptionally well during the tests.”
What are the benefits of using a 3D manufactured injector? The biggest advantage is that there are only two components of the unit. A conventional injector will have more than 160 individual components parts.
Propulsion engineer Nicholas Case said, “Having an in-house additive manufacturing (3D printing) capability allows us to look at test data, modify parts or the test stand based on data, implement changes quickly and get back to testing. This speeds up the whole design, development and testing process and allows us to try innovative designs with less risk and cost to projects.”
There are many advantages of 3D printing. The biggest advantage is cost saving. There is no need for making prototypes and if any change has to be effected, it can be done easily without the need to shelve the entire project.