3D Printing in Space

Air Force lab and 3D printing

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According to Hilmar Koerner, Ph.D., research team lead for polymer matrix composite materials and processes at the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, “Additive manufacturing is important to the future of aerospace for a variety of reasons. Benefits include complexity enabled capability; low-volume, low-cost manufacturing; part reduction; improved form-fit function; tool-less part manufacturing; and lightweighting of interior hardware, such as air ducts, seat framework and wall panels.”

According to Jeffery Baur, Ph.D., leader of the AFRL Composite Performance Research Team, “Printing composites can produce parts with complex shapes and eliminates the need for the expensive pressure cooker and long heating cycles. The possibility to produce parts in the field or at a depot without a long logistics tail is a win-win scenario.”

Air Force lab takes 3D printing to new heights

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U.S. Air Force – The first approved project was printed on the Stratasys F900

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According to Travis release,” The first approved project was printed on the Stratasys F900, can print parts with dimensions up to 36 inches x 24 inches x 36 inches made of Ultem 9085, a specialized plastic known for its extra flexibility, density and strength. The 60th Maintenance Squadron at Travis AFB, Calif., is the Air Force’s first-ever field unit to be equipped with a Federal Aviation Administration- and USAF-certified 3D printer capable of producing aircraft parts. Typically, parts that don’t keep the aircraft from performing their mission don’t have as high as a priority for replacement.”
According to MSgt. John Higgs, the squadron’s metals technology section chief, in the release, “We already have a list from the Air Force level to help them print and to backfill some supplies. This will ensure other bases can replace items sooner than expected with our help.”

Travis Maintenance Squadron First to Produce Certified, 3D-Printed Parts

Relativity Space to build the first rocket 3D Printing factory

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With backing from NASA, rocket startup Relativity Space is creating the first autonomous rocket factory. The company is planning to produce 95% of rocket components with 3D printing, and the first orbital launch is expected in late 2020.

 

This is a guest contribution by Egor Driagin, Chief Marketing Officer at Top 3D Shop

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Source: www.relativityspace.com

The new agreement will provide the California-based startup with exclusive access to NASA’s infrastructure and financial aid from the Mississippi Development Authority for building a large-scale highly automated 3D printing rocket factory. The company will lease a 20,000-square-meter building at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center for nine years. The test stands and all the necessary equipment on the site allow for convenient engine testing. The agreement provides an option to extend the lease for another 10 years. The company aims to create 200 jobs and invest $59 million in the state. In exchange, the state of Mississippi offers a reimbursement of expenses and a tax incentive package.

image2.jpgSource: www.relativityspace.com

The new factory will produce Relativity Space’s first 3D printed rocket – Terran 1. This vehicle can carry up to 2,756 lbs. into low Earth orbit. Both stages will be powered by 3D printed Aeon engines fueled by methane and liquid oxygen. The first stage will be powered by nine engines, stage two will be equipped with only one. The rocket is priced at $10 million per launch. It is expected that due to the use of the 3D printing technology the manufacturing cycle will not exceed 60 days. 

Although the company is planning to construct its own launch facility, the first rockets will be launched from Cape Canaveral. The launchpad and all the supporting infrastructure will be provided by the U.S. Air Force. The company was allowed to use Launch Complex (LC) 16, which was built for tests of Titan I and Titan II, and then Pershing I and Pershing II missiles. The last launch took place there in 1988. 

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Source: www.relativityspace.com

Most of the metal parts will be manufactured by Stargate, Relativity Space’s first 3D printer. The scalable system features multi-axis robotic arms with lasers. The machine uses metal wire feedstock as a printing material. In February 2019, Relativity Space was granted a machine learning 3D metal printing patent, issued for “real-time adaptive control of additive manufacturing processes using machine learning” (US20180341248A1).

“This agreement demonstrates again NASA’s commitment to work with our industry partners to expand commercial access to low Earth orbit. This helps NASA maintain focus on the ambitious Artemis program that will land the first female and the next male on the south pole of the Moon by 2024,” said Rick Gilbrech, director of  Stennis Space Center. “Relativity is a valuable member of the Stennis federal city and we look forward to building on our already successful partnership.”

The first orbital launch is expected in 2020. The company is planning to enter the commercial market in 2021.

 

3D-printing a lunar base

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According to European Space Agency, ESA, “Could astronauts one day be printing rather than building a base on the Moon? In 2013 ESA, working with industrial partners, proved that 3D printing using lunar material was feasible in principle. Since then, work continues to investigate the technique. The shielding against radiation provided by a 3D-printed block of simulated lunar regolith was measured, providing important inputs for next-stage designs.”
According to ESA(Now),” astronaut Luca Parmitano has arrived on the International Space Station following a six-hour flight in the Russian Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft alongside NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov.”

From comments,

4 years ago

This is all good except the “3d printing material” should be the regolith itself melted by focused solar energy. This way the printers could print an inexhaustible™ supply of infrastructure from roads to sinks to rail-launch systems and so on. You would want one specialized printer for printing the things that can’t be made from regolith. (control circuits, actuators, etc.)

I really hope NASA and ESA team up to explore the rest of our solar system and beyond.

3Years ago
Nice, would be able to put an observatory on the moon and make it a refuel station for further travel and a back up for rescue if needed also can make a shipbuilding/repair station safer launches don’t have to fight the gravity and atmosphere burn up, can also make a relay station put a full array of satellites on the moon.
It would be simpler and cheaper to ship high explosives to the moon and use them to excavate a cylindrical chamber into the side of a large crater (like building a tunnel on earth) and then seal off the end, pressurize, and occupy. Much roomier, more protection from radiation and meteor impacts. This 3-D printer idea is dull and uninspiring.
This is great news potentially. I hope one day we can live in space or the moon.

Now
2019: HASSEL wants to print a 3D mars base.

 

Why 3D printing could be key to a Moon base

 

ESA’s Purpose

MEET ASTRONAUT LUCA PARMITANO

Supersonic Jet’s Nanoscale Additive Manufacturing

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Supersonic Jet’s Nanoscale Additive Manufacturing. According to professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology Andrei Fedorov,” we are controlling matter on the atomic scale to bring about new modes of additive manufacturing. This new science could bring about additive manufacturing applications that might otherwise be impossible. The resulting new technology will open up new dimensions for additive manufacturing at the atomic scale.
When we went to the lab to use nanofabrication with focused electron beams, which are the size of a few nanometers, we could not grow structures that were just a few nanometers. They grew to be 50 or 100 nanometers. And it also took a long time to produce the structures, which meant that, without improvements, we’d never be able to produce them at high volume.”

https://www.news.gatech.edu/hg/image/622941/original

Supersonic Gas Speeds Nanoscale 3D Printing

Tiny Supersonic Jet Injector Accelerates Nanoscale Additive Manufacturing

3D Printing News Alert(3D printing in the defence now and before)

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According to Army Technology, “3D printing in the defence manufacturing: issue 100 of Global Defence Technology out now. Global Defence Technology is back for a special celebratory 100th issue, as always packed with the latest industry news and analysis. In this issue, we explore the potential of additive manufacturing for defence applications, speak to Airbus about its involvement in the new DSEI Space Hub launching this year, and more.”

According to EDA’s ground-breaking project, “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration. Aims to assess the areas where Additive Manufacturing (AM) (3D-printing) can have a positive impact on defence capabilities and to demonstrate its feasibility. In the morning of 31 May 2017, the 3D-printing lab was loaded on-board a Spanish C-130 and completed a successful 30-minute flight. This test was pivotal to examining the feasibility of the facility to be deployed by air. After landing, the lab and its equipment were inspected and found to have encountered no issues from the airlift.”

3D printing in defence manufacturing: issue 100 of Global Defence Technology out now