Elon Musk tweeted two days ago tha Spacex has figured out how to design rocket parts just with hand movements. Spacex will post a video of the process next week. They then use 3d printing to make the parts.
The director of the Iron Man movie Jon Favreau tweeted Musk asking: "Like in Iron Man?"
Elon Musk responded in the affirmative.
NASA used 3D printing to create an injector (part of a jet engine). It was the largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA ever has tested. It produced 10 times more thrust than any injector previously fabricated using 3-D printing. The engine firing generated a record (for a 3D printed part) 20,000 pounds of thrust.
Propulsion systems engineer Greg Barnett prepares a rocket injector for a hot fire test at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center
One of the keys to reducing the cost of rocket parts is minimizing the number of components. This injector had only two parts, whereas a similar injector tested earlier had 115 parts. Fewer parts require less assembly effort, which means complex parts made with 3-D printing have the potential for significant cost savings
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