New Method for Large-Scale 3D Printing of Rocket Engines
NASA engineers are exploring a new method called blown powder directed energy deposition to 3D print rocket engine parts. The method is faster and more affordable than conventional fabrication methods. The development is part of NASA’s Rapid Analysis and Manufacturing Propulsion Technology (RAMPT ) project. The printing method injects metal powder into a laser-heated pool of molten metal. The blown powder nozzle and laser optics are integrated into a print-head, which is attached to a robot and moves in a pattern determined by a computer building one layer at a time. The fabrication method can produce very large pieces that are limited only by the size of the room in which they are created. It can also be used to print very complex parts, including engine nozzles with internal coolant channels.