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Propulsion systems engineer Greg Barnett gets the 3-D rocket injector ready for a hot fire test at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. This particular 9.5-inch injector is about half the size of the one that's expected to be used in NASA's RS-25 engine. It was made with just two pieces whereas a similar injector made with traditional welding has 115 pieces.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC/Emmett Given
A 3-D printer created this one piece rocket-engine injector in 40 hours. It has previously months to make the same part by welding many pieces together. The left image shows the injector after it was removed from the melting printer and the right image shows the final version.
Image credit: NASA/MSFC
A computer file instructs the printer how use its laser to melt fine powder into its final shape. Of course, NASA wasn't satisfied with calling it 3-D printing so it's now additive manufacturing.