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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
NIST's new five-year strategic plan for its Material Measurement Laboratory lists additive manufacturing materials development as one of the main areas it will support by developing measurements, data, techniques, and models.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.