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Engineering Materials
NASA Tests 3D-Printed Rocket Engine Part
7/29/2013

NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne have completed hot-fire tests on a rocket injector assembly made with a selective laser melting 3D printing process and powdered metals.(Source: NASA Glenn Research Center)
NASA and Aerojet Rocketdyne have completed hot-fire tests on a rocket injector assembly made with a selective laser melting 3D printing process and powdered metals.
(Source: NASA Glenn Research Center)

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Rob Spiegel
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Amazing printer
Rob Spiegel   7/29/2013 8:57:52 AM
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This takes 3D printing to a level where it can hardly be callled a printer any longer. Impressive the amount of time it takes out of the process of developing parts. 

TJ McDermott
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Re: Amazing printer
TJ McDermott   7/29/2013 1:37:56 PM
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You are so right, Rob.  But what will it be?  Star Trek's "Replicator" is a bit unwieldy in the mouth.

John Ringo uses "Fabber" for such devices in his Troy novels.  That's my personal favorite.

I see a near-future SF movie in which stranded astronauts start cannibalizing non-essential systems to feed into their "fabber" in order to make the part shattered by a meteor collision.

On-orbit fabbers - at first sounded like finding a need for a tool, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.  Multi-material fabbers next - plastic + metal all at the same time.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Amazing printer
Ann R. Thryft   7/29/2013 1:46:55 PM
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Thanks, Rob. Selective laser melting (SLM) is just another word for selective laser sintering, a common 3D printing technique used for both plastics and metals.

Charles Murray
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University ties
Charles Murray   7/29/2013 6:33:32 PM
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Nice to know that Pratt & Whitney is working with the University of Connecticut on additive manufacturing. As we've said in previous stories and comments, universities need to be on top of this trend because it's happening so fast. That way, our next generation of engineers will be ready for it.

Charles Murray
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Re: Amazing printer
Charles Murray   7/29/2013 6:34:36 PM
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I vote for the "fabber" moniker, TJ.

notarboca
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Re: Amazing printer
notarboca   7/29/2013 11:36:18 PM
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Pretty keen to be able to make a tool in orbit; engineers on the ground could even send up improved or novel tool programs.  Very positive step forward with the injector as well.

Mydesign
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New dimensions to 3D printing
Mydesign   7/30/2013 12:03:45 AM
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Ann, amazing and excellent developments. I think such developments can add another dimensions to 3D printing, which can make technology common to all applications.

Zippy
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Re: Amazing printer
Zippy   7/30/2013 10:25:50 AM
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The ability to fabricate parts in space would certainly take the drama out of an Apollo-13 type repair scenario.  Instead of scrounging pieces and duct-taping them together, you could make a whole new part, or even a totally redesigned part to deal with the situation.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Amazing printer
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2013 12:55:43 PM
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TJ, your sci-fi movie scenario sounds just like what NASA envisions--feed everything into it and out comes the perfect replacement part. I'd like to see multi-material (metals + plastic) 3D printers, too. Those may not be so far away, since the architectural types use a wide variety of materials already.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: New dimensions to 3D printing
Ann R. Thryft   7/30/2013 3:21:12 PM
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Mydesign, thanks for your enthusiasm. There's a lot going on with 3D printing of metals, more than most people know, since these companies have been very quiet compared to the hobbyist end machines that use plastics.



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