With one of the highest barriers-to-entry of any industry in the world, space travel may be one of the most surprising areas of 3D printing innovation.
Aerospace startup Relativity has tested the creation of aluminium rocket engines using additive manufacturing. If successful, this application would sharply reduce the costs and practical difficulties of space travel, opening up the field to new business and to a vast potential for growth.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, fitted with 3D printed SuperDraco engines, first took flight in March 2019. (source: SpaceX)
SpaceX’s choice of the 3D printing was taken on account of cost- and waste-cutting aptitudes of the technology, and to preserve flexibility in the production process too. The engine’s combustion chamber, also produced through 3D printing, was proven to have a superior strength, ductility, fracture resistance to conventional materials.
We’ve even seen 3D printing used in space, when NASA used a 3D printer to build a ratchet wrench aboard the International Space Station, the first tool of its kind to be manufactured in space.
Information contained within this page originally appeared on Formlabs.com