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NASA tests 3D-printed rocket engine injector

Last Updated: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 18:53

Zee Media Bureau

Washington: US space agency, NASA has successfully tested a rocket engine injector using 3D-printing technology, potentially signifying a new age of propulsion-system manufacturing.

The injector, which is used to deliver liquid oxygen and hydrogen gas to a rocket engine’s combustion chamber, was designed by Florida-based company Aerojet Rocketdyne, using high-powered laser beams that liquefied and fused metallic powders.

“Hot-fire-testing the injector as part of a rocket engine is a significant accomplishment in maturing additive manufacturing for use in rocket engines,” Carol Tolbert, manager of the Manufacturing Innovation Project at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, said in a statement.

“These successful tests let us know that we are ready to move on to demonstrate the feasibility of developing full-size, additively manufactured parts,” Tolbert added.

While rocket engine injectors normally take a year or more to build, the 3D-printed injector used in the test took less than four months. 3D printing technology saves time and also reduces cost of production by 70 percent.

“NASA recognises 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,” Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology added.

The tests were carried out by the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

First Published: Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 18:50

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