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Students 3D Print and Test Fire Metal Rocket Engine

Students 3D Print and Test Fire Metal Rocket EngineAn October Sky-esque event took place recently: students at a university just test fired a metal rocket engine.

Except instead of sneaking into their parents’ machine shop and stealing railroad ties to make money, these students 3D printed their rocket engine.

It really is like something out of a movie. Students at the University of California, San Diego “built a rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA.

As Gizmag also notes, “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.”

The test, by the way, was successful, and experts think that 3D printing parts like these could be the next step in the commercialization of space–which could be greatly advanced by cheaper production techniques like 3D printing.

Our favorite part of this whole test? NASA covered a majority of the cost for the rocket, but the rest of the funds were covered by students with money from fundraisers like barbecues. So they didn’t only create a 3D printed rocket engine (an awesome piece of engineering)–they also raised the money using common fundraising techniques.

As we mentioned earlier, these students aren’t the first ones to create a 3D printed rocket engine. Just a couple of months ago, NASA fired up a rocket engine made with a 3D printer. Additionally, the European Space Agency has unveiled plans to “take 3D printing into the metal age,” in hopes that their parts can be used for jets, spacecraft, and fusion projects.

3D printing technology is cool enough on its own, but the fact that these students created and tested their own rocket part is just awesome. We’re excited for the future of 3D printing, and events like these only reinforce our thoughts about just how great manufacturing tech like this is.

A couple of videos below show 3D printed rocket engine technology at work. The first is from NASA, and the second is from UCSD (the students’ test):

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Photo credit: Gizmag

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