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NASA test-fires rocket with 3-D printed component

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Sunday, September 1, 2013, 12:59 PM -

NASA successfully tested a new 3-D printed engine component last week, a fuel injector.

The result: 20,000 pounds of thrust, 10 times more than previous efforts:

It was also larger and easier to put together than its predecessors. It consisted of only two parts, down from 115 in a previously-tested injector. 

Researchers modified an existing design, simplifying it enough to make it viable for 3-D printing, also called additive manufacturing.

"This entire effort helped us learn what it takes to build larger 3-D parts, from design, to manufacturing, to testing," Greg Barnett, the lead engineer for the project, said in a NASA release.

"This technology can be applied to any of [NASA's Space Launch System]'s engines, or to rocket components being built by private industry."

Here's NASA's explanation on how it all works:

3-D printing has been eyed by the space agency almost as soon as it was invented.

Engineers are developing ways to use the technology to create everything from space ship parts, to edible food.

Aside from being versatile, it could lead to cheaper spaceflight, making better use of NASA's $17.7 billion budget.

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