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UCSD Students Test Fire 3D-Printed Metal Rocket Engine 55

Posted by timothy
from the mail-order-is-cheaper dept.
schwit1 writes "Like something out of a Robert Heinlein novel, students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have built a metal rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA. Earlier this month, the UCSD chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) at the Jacobs School of Engineering conducted a hot fire test for a 3D-printed metal rocket engine at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in California's Mojave Desert. This is the first such test of a printed liquid-fueled, metal rocket engine by any university in the world and the first designed and printed outside of NASA."
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UCSD Students Test Fire 3D-Printed Metal Rocket Engine

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  • So did it work? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday October 13, 2013 @06:32AM (#45113135) Homepage

    News summaries are allowed to contain spoilers, you know.

    (RTFA, and it did work.)

    • It was an interesting article. I was hoping for something more detailed and technical as well as new. Printed guns got a lot of coverage and I thought that was just a way to get attention through controversy. A rocket that could be -completely- printed would be a far more effective weapon. What I did not appreciate was a gizmag popup that asked for my email to subscribe. I am capable of discovering what I want to read and when.

      • by Smauler (915644)

        Rockets have been made with 3d printing before.

        "This is the first such test of a printed liquid-fueled, metal rocket engine by any university in the world and the first designed and printed outside of NASA."

        Could someone with a little bit of knowledge tell me what the difficulties with this technology are, and what the advantages are over other rocket technology.

        I'm not a rocket scientist (I never thought I'd say that seriously ;)).

        • by Optali (809880)

          The difference is that previous 3D printed engines had been made by NASA while this one has been made by students.

    • News summaries are allowed to contain spoilers, you know.

      (RTFA, and it did work.)

      No, The summary did just what it was supposed to do: entice you to Read The Fancy Article. If it contianed the spoiler, you wouldn't have read the article.

    • >> News summaries are allowed to contain spoilers, you know.

      He doesn't fix the cable.

    • I'm impressed. I saw the welding job done on the engine, and marveled that the engine did work, and without killing anyone. Maybe the Tritons on the follow up class project can sign up for an elementry welding class at the local La Jolla High School ROP Welding Class.

      Good job Tritons, but seriously, there are cheap machines for that kind of welding that Boeing, and NASA have laying around doing nothing; borrow one.
  • by Dodgy G33za (1669772) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @07:56AM (#45113325)

    "and the first designed and printed outside of NASA"

    How do you know? I am thinking a lot of countries out there are not so open about the goings on in their research labs. Same goes for the US military. My guess is that if NASA is already on the public record for X, quite a few organisations in the world have done Y, where Y > X.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I would find it strange of no rocket amateur has had access to a metal sls printer and used it for something if just as to do it. those machines aren't _that_ obscure anymore and you can order your parts online from a model.

      of course scale being entirely different but the concept same..

  • 3d metal printing - the possibilities for robotics projects excite me, although the dawning of skynet also fills me with dread.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      the dawning of skynet also fills me with dread.

      ... says MrKaos.

  • When I saw the header, I thought that the rocket engine would have 3D-printed cooling ducts around its nozzle. It is something that Apollo / space shuttle - sized rocket engines have, but which can be quite complex. This engine doesn't.

    The same 3D-printing process used here is commonly used for making steel moulds for injection moulding, particularly because 3D-printing can create cooling ducts in the moulds which are impossible to machine with current methods.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Huh? It DOES. It has a regenerative cooling jacket, just like most every liquid-fueled rocket engine or your exhaust nozzle would melt rapidly.

      Mod parent -1 Misinformed.

    • When I saw the header, I thought that the rocket engine would have 3D-printed cooling ducts around its nozzle. It is something that Apollo / space shuttle - sized rocket engines have, but which can be quite complex. This engine doesn't.

      The article clearly states: "The rocket has a regenerative cooling jacket that extends to the nozzle."

      The jackets/piping are clearly visible in all the photos, too...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "and the first designed and printed outside of NASA" is wrong. See, for example, reports on http://rocketmoonlighting.blogspot.com/ where the author designed and later tested on the static fire stand a 3D-printed engine. No NASA connection.

    It's not an only example either. If you have follower Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander Challenge, you might remember Unreasonable Rocket team, which some considered as third best. In 2010 fall the blog http://unreasonablerocket.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html describes

  • Paul Breed was 3D printing liquid fuel rocket motors in 2010 and was test firing them by 2011. His test firings also took place at FAR, the same facility mentioned in this article.

    Here is a link to Paul's blogs that (somewhat) relate to his experiments with printed engines:
    Unreasonable Rocket [blogspot.ca]

    I believe that he beat NASA and everyone else out of the gate with this technique.
  • It only counts if they used "Raspberry Pi" to control the firing.

    (no hipsters were hurt in the production of this post)

  • Now we need 3D printed metal mini-rockets that can shoot down these rockets, to put on commercial planes to stop the inevitable in 10 years.

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