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3D Direct Metal Laser Solidification (DMLS®) Printing for Thrusters and Rockets

3D Metal Printed Thrusters

i3DMFG™ 3D printed thruster successful test fire. Image courtesy of Parabilis Space Technologies. “…congrats on this thruster! I know it was a tough part and a short timeframe, but you guys really pulled it off and should be proud.”

NASA recently tested a rocket engine 75% composed of 3D printed DMLS® parts. “This new manufacturing process really opened the design space and allowed for part geometries that would be impossible with traditional machining or casting methods,” said NASA designer David Eddleman.

3DDMLS® printing allows for the production of components with highly complex geometries from exotic metals like Copper, Inconel, Haynes, Monel K, and Titanium. This type of 3D metal printing is not only used frequently for research purposes, but also as a cost-efficient manufacturing measure. For example, Aerojet reports that its rocket, made entirely from DMLS® parts, reduced manufacturing costs by 65 percent.

DMLS® uses a 3D model to direct its lasers to fuse material together layer by layer in optimized micro slices. Because there is no waste or scrap metal, the cost of printing in exotic metals like titanium and Inconel is reduced by 50-70%.


3D Metal Printed Rocket Thruster

Image courtesy of Bagaveev Corp. “Your printing methods are so good that we flow much more than expected from small holes.”

3D DMLS® printing is excellent for thruster manufacturing. Rocket scientists are able to eliminate potential leaks or failure points by integrating and printing multiple part assemblies as one seamless part. The ability to incorporate micro channels and organic flow patterns allow for the creation of efficient and custom designs, which are desirable for the manufacturing of satellites and rocket thrusters.

First 3D Printed Rocket Launch Courtesy of Bagaveev Corporation


3D Metal Printed Satellites

DMLS® is ideal for the construction of satellites and satellite components due to its allowance of up to a 70% weight reduction. Though lighter weight, DMLS® parts still maintain the same part strength and integrity as traditionally made parts. Solid components can be latticed in custom honeycomb patterns for further weight reduction and improved part function. i3DMFG™ is proud to supply NASA and other partners with leading edge 3D metal printed components.


3D Metal Printed Robotics

The complexity, customization, and durability of 3D DMLS® printing makes this process ideal for the manufacturing of robotic components. Custom lighter weight and low volume parts are cost effectively 3D printed in aluminum, copper, titanium, Inconel, Haynes, Monel K, maraging steel, and stainless steel. Our designers and engineers can use exotic metals previously too expensive in traditional fabrication to upgrade aluminum parts while improving or maintaining costs and weights.

3D Metal Printed Rockets, Satellites, and Spacecraft Articles

FastCompany Most Innovative Companies

Building A Lunar Base With 3D Printing

NASA 3D Resources

Download Our Thruster Cut Sheet

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Metals We Print

i3DMFG is one of the few 3D manufacturers in the US that specializes in aluminum, copper, titanium, Inconel, Haynes, Monel K, Stainless Steel and custom metal powder applications. Experts in 3D design, our engineers help our customers achieve competitive advantage in design and proprietary advancements.

Aluminum (AlSi10 and 6061)

Aluminum (AlSi10 and 6061)

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Due to its lightweight nature and excellent thermal properties, AlSi10 is our most common DMLS aluminum powder. It is ideal for parts with thin walls and complicated geometries. i3DMFG™ also runs 6061 to achieve better surface finish and strength properties comparable to wrought 6061-T6.

Titanium (Ti)

Titanium (Ti64) is well suited for projects requiring corrosion resistance, strength, weight reduction, and biocompatibility.

Stainless Steels (15-5, 17-4, 304L, and 316L)

DMLS® stainless steel is a medical grade, sterilisable, corrosion resistant steel that hardens to 40-45 HRC after heat treatment. Our stainless-steel equivalents include 15-5, 17-4, 304L, and 316L. Parts made from DMLS® can be machined, spark-eroded, welded, micro shot-peened, polished, and coated.

Maraging Steel (MS1)

Maraging (tool) Steel (MS1) features excellent strength and mechanical properties. Its chemical composition corresponds to U.S. 18% Ni Maraging 300, European 1.2709 and German X3NiCoMoTi 18-9-5. After heat treatment, MS1 typically has a 50-53 HRC.

Super Nickle Alloys (IN625, IN718, Haynes 214, Haynes 282 and Hastelloy X)

Super Nickle alloys are chromium alloys with superior heat and corrosion resistance.

Copper (GrCop-84 and GrCop-42)

i3DMFG™ is developing parameter sets to print in GrCop-84 and GrCop-42 for high temperature applications.

A NASA developed Copper alloy that is highly conductive for the aerospace industry.

Custom Powders

i3DMFG™ is the market leader is DMLS® powder development. We are able to develop highly specialized powder applications for aerospace, UAV/UAS, rocket, defense, oil & gas, energy, medical device, automotive, and casting customers

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