While current real-world applications of 3D printers are usually quite depressing tales of nerds spending £3,000 to be able to print out a replacement chess piece, things are moving quickly up at the high-end sector of the market, with NASA claiming success in 3D printing spare rocket engine bits.
The engine contained a fuel injector that had been 3D printed, albeit using the super-advanced selective laser melting technique that assembles nickel-chromium alloy powder into layers -- technology that's unlikely to appear on the shelves of PC World within the next year or two. The engine generated some 20,000 pounds of thrust, ten times more power than previously generated by something using the same 3D printed parts.
Greg Barnett, lead engineer for the project, said: "This entire effort helped us learn what it takes to build larger 3D parts -- from design, to manufacturing, to testing. This technology can be applied to any of SLS's engines, or to rocket components being built by private industry." [Nasa via Cnet]
Image credit: 3D printer Shutterstock