It recently tested a rocket engine’s crucial turbopump unit that was built almost entirely of 3D printed parts (see the video below). Several companies have indicated that the parts for this fuel pump were the most complex they have ever made with 3D printing. Marshall Space Center design lead Mart Calvert said that NASA and its private partners are “making big advances in the additive manufacturing arena with this work.
- The 3D printed pump uses 45 percent fewer bits than a traditionally manufactured part and takes half the time to make.
- NASA is pushing the state-of-the-art for 3D additive printing and wants to bring US industry along with it.
- During the test, the 2,000 horsepower, 1,200 gallon per minute pump was run up to 90,000 rpm, about ten times faster than a jet engine at take-off.