Lockheed, PADT, Stratasys Collaborate on 3D Printing for NASA Spacecraft Parts

Spaceship Orion near Mars

The following flight, EM-2, will use more than 100 3D printed production parts on board, engineered in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, Stratasys and PADT.

More than a hundred parts for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) space capsule, Orion, will be printed using the 3D printer technology.

NASA aims to send an uncrewed Orion with the Space Launch System beyond the Moon as part of the agency's Exploration Mission-1.

NASA's European counterpart, the ESA has suggested that moon rock and Mars dust could be used to 3D print structures and tools, which could significantly reduce the cost of future space missions as less material would have to be brought along from Earth.

The part consists of six individual 3D printed components locked together to form a ring on the craft's exterior. They have actually now checked the expediency of 3D-printed parts, and stated they think the innovation will permit them, and other business, the chance to mass-produce parts for future area travel.

Visitors to the Lockheed Martin booth at this week's 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs can see the aforementioned part on display through Thursday. Its first test flight, lasting four hours and 24 minutes, was launched atop a Delta IV Heavy rocket in December 2014.

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This 3-D printed Orion docking hatch cover. Scott Sevcik, Vice President of Manufacturing Solutions at Stratasys praises how far 3D printing technology has jumped in recent years.

Other parts that will be 3D printed includes brackets and other smaller components.

"We look to apply benefits across our programs - missile defence, satellites, planetary probes, especially as we create more and more common products", said Brian Kaplun, additive manufacturing manager at Lockheed Martin Space.

3D printing also allows for more control of the design of the parts. This also makes it easier to make light parts.

Stratasys has actually had the ability to spread out making use of 3D printing innovation in the business through collaborations in the fields of prosthetics, sports, and health care, assisting business print whatever from bobsleds to practical designs of human hearts and bones.

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