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Marshall engineers 3-D print copper rocket part in NASA milestone

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – NASA engineers at Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center have produced the first full-scale, copper rocket part using additive manufacturing – a milestone for aerospace 3-D printing.

The part is a combustion chamber liner that must operate at extreme conditions during flight. In fact, temperatures on the inside of the paper-thin copper liner wall can reach 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s kept from melting by recirculating gases on the outside cooled to less than 100 degrees above absolute zero, the theoretical limit of cold.

“To circulate the gas, the combustion chamber liner has more than 200 intricate channels built between the inner and outer liner wall,” said Chris Singer, director of the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Alabama hub. “Making these tiny passages with complex internal geometries challenged our additive manufacturing team.”

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