NASA develops first 3-D printed copper rocket engine part
NASA engineers have developed the first full-scale three dimensional (3-D) printed copper rocket engine part.
The part developed was a combustion chamber liner that operates at extreme temperatures and pressures using additive manufacturing technique.
Combustion chamber was manufactured by using selective laser melting machine in the Laboratory located in Marshall Space Flight Centre’s Materials and Processing.
The machine had fused 8,255 layers of copper powder to make the chamber in 10 days and 18 hours.
The raw material used was GRCo-84, a copper alloy created by scientists at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre in Ohio. This alloy has an extensive materials characterization which helped engineers to validate the 3-D printing processing parameters and ensure build quality.
3-D printing or additive manufacturing technique has the potential to reduce the time and cost of making rocket parts. It can help to manufacture engine parts 10 times faster and reduce the cost by more than 50 per cent.