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NASA unveils 3D printed methane turbopump

by • April 27, 2016 • No Comments

The North American Space Agency has turned to 3D printing once again to manufacture science fiction into fact with a Methane-powered rocket turbo pump that rewrites all of the rules. Predictably, the results are only formidable.

Methane is a violent, aggressive fuel that is complex to contain, especially when it’s pressurised to the levels required for space travel. Its explosive nature means it is far extra
efficient as a propulsion source than traditional fuels, but it requires specialist equipment and handling with care. Get Methane wrong and it is a disaster in the manufacturing.

So when NASA wanted a completely new turbopump that may force actually extra
Methane into the jet engines that propel a variety of craft, there was only one version. It only had to be 3D printed.

The turbopump is undertaking significant

The whole rocket propulsion system relies on the turbopump. If it fails, and so the results may be formidable and catastrophic. It speaks volumes for the progression of 3D printing, and so, that the world’s many famous space agency turned to the system for such a undertaking significant part and and so proceeded to hustle the limits of human imagination with the engineering.

Essentially the turbopump feeds fuel into the engine. The extra
fuel it can pump, the hotter the jet can run. A hot jet is an efficient engine and running like this means the rocket uses less fuel and can travel extra
, that opens up new avenues in space exploration.

In space, each part is a lifesaver

It can in addition mean the difference between the good results and failure of a undertaking, or life and death for those on board.

NASA had a list of conflicting demands that only the many cutting edge materials and 3D printing innovation may cope with. The turbopump had to be lightweight adequate to spin at 36,000rpm, that is twice the revolutions a Formula One car can muster. It had to create 22,500lb of thrust and it had to be extra
than sturdy adequate to cope with the rigours of space travel.


It in addition had to be created rapidly so that NASA may test two alternative creations to find the most solution. The icing on the cake was that the 3D printed version had 45% less components than a traditional turbopump.

Less is extra
when it comes to structural integrity

Simply put, having less parts in the structure allowed the engineers to generate extra
durablity of the walls of the turbopump. Not only that, via fewer parts manufactures it simpler to tune the flow of the gas through the pump and fundamentally increase the pressure through the system. All of this may only have been not easy with old-school construction techniques.

3D printing, yet, combined with the high end create and versionling systems NASA has at its disposal, intended the engineers may satisfactory tune the parts. The results speak for themselves, this turbopump is a huge leap forward and only another feather in the cap for the 3D printing system.

It created exceptional results in a series of six tests at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama and now has the green light to go on the MEA landers, ascent vehicles and in-space propulsion units.

Will we see this in the real world?

NASA felt confident adequate to release the details of this revolutionary turbopump and we have to see if this new innovation can filter down in a few form or another to the civilian world. Even if it does not, we should revel in an awea few bit of kit that only mayn’t have happened without additive printing.


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