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)
I think these partnerships will happen more as 3D printing/AM moves from a proprietary niche industry to a larger, more open platform marketplace. The formation of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) is giving this a boost, also.
I agree, Chuck. Looks like the commercial-entity-plus-university combination is increasing in 3D printing/AM R&D research. I think that makes a lot of sense for several reasons: universities get funding they need for practical, hands-on research, companies get access to fine minds, and students get a leg up on learning about what's going on in an industry.
TJ, Actually "replicator" is the perfect word for a macjhine that does the 3D manufacturing process. Fabrication almost always involves cutting up materials to make pieces that are then fabricated into an assembly. BUT the lazy media will undoubtedly come up with a shorter and much less accurate word for it. Just look at that term "apps", which is a lazy way of stating "application program", and you have a perfect example of how dumb lazy-talk can be. Even worse, consider the fact that the original meaning is far removed from the term, so that really people have no idea as to what they really are saying or what it means.
Sorry about the rant, but lazy speech is something that bothers me sometimes.
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.
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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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