Manufacturing & Prototyping
3D-Printed Engine Tests: What Is A Breadboard Engine?
NASA has been working with various vendors to make 3D-printed parts, such as turbopumps and injectors, and test them individually. To test them together, they connected the parts so that they work the same as they do in a real engine, only they are not packaged together in a configuration that looks like the typical engine you see on a test stand. "In engineering lingo, this is called a breadboard engine," explains NASA propulsion engineer Nick Case, the testing lead for the effort. "What matters is that the parts work the same way as they do in a conventional engine and perform under the extreme temperatures and pressures found inside a rocket engine. The turbopump got its 'heartbeat' racing at more than 90,000 revolutions per minute and the end result is the flame you see coming out of the thrust chamber to produce over 20,000 pounds of thrust, and an engine like this could produce enough power for an upper stage of a rocket or a Mars lander."