Thursday, March 21, 2013

3-D printed part on rocket engine

J-2X with 3-D printed part. NASA photo
The latest in cutting-edge manufacturing is already having an impact on space exploration. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif., prime contractor for the J-2X engine, recently used a 3-D printing process called Selective Laser Melting, or SLM, to create an exhaust port cover for the engine. SLM uses lasers to fuse metal dust into a specific pattern to build the cover, which is essentially a maintenance hatch for the engine's turbo pumps. On March 7, this part was exposed to the strenuous conditions of a rocket engine firing during a test at NASA's Stennis Space Center, Miss., and will be a part of the rest of this test series. The J-2X is undergoing testing in support of the agency's Space Launch System Program, managed at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. (Source: NASA, 03/19/13)