The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is experimenting with 3D-printing technology and has created complex rocket parts.

Additive manufacturing, more commonly known is 3D-printing technology, is getting very popular in various fields and being lauded by many as a futuristic technology. In the medical field, 3D-printing has helped surgeons reconstruct a person's skull and scientists are also looking at bio-printing blood vessels. Disney is also experimenting with 3D-printing to create toys for children.

3D-printing is also being experimented in the aviation and space industries and the U.S. space agency has recently announced that it has successfully tested an injector of a rocket engine, which is responsible to direct propellant to the spacecraft's engine. NASA recently revealed that to create such a complex component it had to input the design details of the part to a computer connected to a 3D-printer.

The 3D-printer was successful enough to build the component layer-by-layer using metal powder, which was put together with the help of laser. NASA explains that this process is normally called selective laser melting.

The injector has 40 different elements and NASA scientists suggest that the 3D-printing technology was able to build the component as one unit rather than being manufactured separately. The space agency indicates that the injector built with the help of 3D-printing technology is identical to the size used in small rockets and also possesses similar design aspects as found in big engines.

Chris Singer, director of Marshall's Engineering Directorate, suggests that 3D-printing technology can revolutionize the design aspects of various complex rocket parts. Singer believes that 3D-printing has the potential to save money and precious time for building rocket components.

Jason Turpin, an engineer with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says that the agency is working with some component manufacturers to establish the required standards for the 3D-printing manufacturing process.

"We are working with industry to learn how to take advantage of additive manufacturing in every stage of space hardware construction from design to operations in space. We are applying everything we learn about making rocket engine components to the Space Launch System and other space hardware," says Turpin.

NASA revealed that it tested two rocket injectors for about five seconds each, which produced 20,000 pounds of thrust. NASA engineers worked with two companies to manufacture the injector: Solid Concepts based in Valencia, California, and Directed Manufacturing of Austin, Texas. Both the companies manufactured one injector each.

Check out a small video of the 3D-printed rocket engine injector being tested.

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