Future space missions could include 3D printed parts. CC image courtesy of NASA Apollo Archive.
The injector component, according to the United States’ space agency, will save manufacturers money by being 3D-printed and should also take less time.
The successful tests were conducted at the Glenn Research Centre, in Cleveland, and 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.
“3D 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."
The injector took just four months to produce through 3D printing, whereas usually it would take more than a year.
Tyler Hickman, who led the testing at Glenn, said: “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.”
HumanIPO has previously reported on 3D printing being used for guns and a new foot for a duck.