The U.S. space agency deployed the technology, similar to the printing on the 3D printer to create the components of super-heavy carrier rocket. According to Gizmag, engineers NASA “type” metal parts for rocket engines with a highly accurate method of “selective laser melting” (SLM). This approach allows components faster and cheaper.
For 3D printing system is used M2 Cusing Machine manufactured by the German company Concept Laser. This setting acts as a 3D printers, but unlike them, do not use polymers and metal powders (stainless steel, heat treatment, aluminum, titanium, and nickel), which melt fiber laser power of 200 watts.
“In fact, this machine takes the metal powder and melt it in a certain pattern with high-energy laser,” – said Ken Cooper, project manager of the Marshall Space Center. Based on the set up on the computer 3D-models, M2 can produce parts with complex geometric shapes and defined mechanical properties, he added.
According to engineers, the smelting process significantly reduces the production of parts. If before their creation took several months, but now – a couple of weeks, or in some cases days. Test run first unmanned rocket within the “space launch system” (SLS) is scheduled for 2017.