NASA Uses 3D Printing to Bring the Cost of Space Exploration Down to Earth

Lunar landers could use 3D-printed rocket engine parts that bring down manufacturing costs and production times.

NASA recently hot-fire tested a pair of 3D-printed components designed for rocket engines, a combustion chamber and nozzle. They are 3D printed out of a high-strength, hydrogen-resistant alloy and should withstand the combustion environments that until now only traditionally manufactured metal structures were able to.

Hot-fire testing of a 3D-printed combustion chamber and a nozzle made of a high-strength, hydrogen-resistant alloy.

The high-strength iron-nickel superalloy nozzle was printed using a method called laser powder directed energy deposition, which deposits and melts the metal powder to create freeform structures. This method let NASA turn out small- and large-scale components.

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