NASA test 3D-printed rocket engine

NASA have really began to take on the 3D printing revolution and, of course, make it that bit better – they are using it to go into space, after all!

You may remember that NASA were funding research into the 3D food printer – well, it seems they’re not finished with 3D print technology just yet.

Now, the latest plan from NASA is to use 3D-printed components as part of a working rocket engine.

The organisation have produced a rocket fuel injector using lasers that melt a nickel-chromium alloy powder to create the complex design, which had 28 elements for directing and mixing fuel.

Most injectors of this size have around 115 different parts, while the 3D printed injector had just two, meaning it required less assembly and cost.

“This successful test of a 3-D printed rocket injector brings NASA significantly closer to proving this innovative technology can be used to reduce the cost of flight hardware,” said Chris Singer, the director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville Ala.

NASA believe the whole process to be a huge success, having gained a better understanding into creating larger 3D parts.  It may even open up another industry in which 3D printing can really make an effect.

“This entire effort helped us learn what it takes to build larger 3-D parts — from design, to manufacturing, to testing,” said Greg Barnett, the lead engineer for the project.

“This technology can be applied to any of SLS’s engines, or to rocket components being built by private industry.”

Check out the video below showing the rocket fuel injector in action: