NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne recently finished testing a rocket engine injector made through additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, leading to more efficient manufacturing of rocket engines, saving American companies time and money. Image © NASA Glenn Research Center
The series of tests demonstrated the ability to design, manufacture and test a critical rocket engine component using selective laser melting manufacturing technology — a method that employs high-powered laser beams to melt and fuse fine metallic powders into three dimensional structures.
Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington, said:
“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. 3-D manufacturing offers opportunities to optimize the fit, form and delivery systems of materials that will enable our space missions while directly benefiting American businesses here on Earth.”
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.
The tests were conducted at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Image © NASA Glenn Research Center