Tag Archives: Aerospace

NASA and 3D Printing

NASA and 3D Printing

Though not an original equipment manufacturer, NASA has been one of the foremost innovators for 3D printing design and application.  Using Selective Laser Sintering or SLS on metals NASA is able to more quickly make more optimally designed and mechanically robust components, while cutting out the majority of the weight. They feel that their, “team’s innovative work here at Marshall and the NASA National Center for Advanced Manufacturing is just one example of how NASA is helping to reinvigorate America’s manufacturing sector.”

The goal is for these parts to help us reach a familiar goal:

The emerging technology will build parts for America’s next flagship rocket, the Space Launch System or SLS, which is designed to take humans, equipment and experiments beyond low Earth orbit to nearby asteroids and eventually to Mars.

The main reasons NASA sees an advantage in Additive Manufacturing are pretty simple:

There are two major benefits to this process, which are major considerations for the Space Launch System Program: savings and safety.

“This process significantly reduces the manufacturing time required to produce parts from months to weeks or even days in some cases,” said Andy Hardin, the integration hardware lead for the Engines Office in SLS. “It’s a significant improvement in affordability, saving both time and money. Also, since we’re not welding parts together, the parts are structurally stronger and more reliable, which creates an overall safer vehicle.” It turns out these 3D printed parts can handle more stress from the launch than any other welded part.

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Airbus Explores Building Planes With Giant 3D Printers

We already know that 3D-printing has revolutionized the way we can make everyday objects from Lego pieces, to guitars, and from car bodies to artificial livers. But the scale of this change could be much, much bigger if the “printers” themselves scale up enough to incorporate structures as large as airplanes.

Bastian Schaefer, a cabin engineer with Airbus, has been working for the last two years on a concept cabin that envisions what the future of flight would look like from the passenger’s perspective. From that came a radical concept: build the aircraft itself from the ground up with a 3D printer that’s very large in deed, ie. as big as an aircraft hangar. That probably sounds like a long shot, since the biggest 3D printers today are about the size of a dining table. But the Airbus design comes with a roadmap, from 3D-printing small components now, through to the plane as a whole around 2050.

Read the full article here!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcKb3ldQznU&feature=player_embedded%5D

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Yoda helps explain the latest technology innovation

The force is strong with this technology… Although 3D printing is still in its infancy stage, the rate that it is evolving is astounding. At first, 3D printing was used for rapid prototyping in design visualization and development. The technology has arrived to the point where it can now be used for final part production, printing circuitry, and even artificial bone structures. This article illustrates the detail and intricate geometries that are possible with this technology, and it is getting better everyday. Almost every industry can benefit from additive manufacturing in one way or another. Experts are constantly discovering new applications such as printing “smart” wings for UAVs, printing organs and prosthetic limbs, and of course printing Yoda figures (my favorite)!

Check out the full article and video here!

All finished: And so Yoda is complete, down to the smallest details of his little green head

Thanks Yoda, you are very wise!

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3D Printing for the International Space Station (ISS)

What costs $450 million dollars and lasts for less than a month? If you guessed “shuttle launch” then you are correct. If something breaks on board the ISS the astronauts have to wait for for the next mission to receive their replacement parts. 3D printing technology offers a cost effective and practical solution to this problem that has plagued the ISS for years. For example, in 2006 the Elektron Oxygen Generating System ceased to function because of a blown fuse. Although oxygen levels of the ISS are constantly monitored, depleted levels of breathable air is always a concern for NASA (we all love oxygen). If all goes according to plan, by 2014 the ISS should have printers on board that will print parts on demand.

Check out the full article HERE!

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