Students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have built a metal rocket engine using a technique previously confined to NASA, a technique called Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). The Tri-D rocket engine, as it’s called, was designed and built with the cooperation of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as part of an effort to explore the feasibility of printed rocket components.

In this 3D printing process, a powder of the chromium-cobalt alloy is spread in a thin layer by the printing machine. A computer-controlled laser then fuses the powder into a cross section of the engine component. The machine spreads a second layer of powder and the process repeats until the component is complete. The excess powder is then removed as are any temporary supports printed to hold the component together during printing, then it’s hardened, polished and assembled.

Read more from gizmag (October 12, 2013)

UCSD students test fire 3D-printed metal rocket engine