Giant 3D printed titanium domes certified by NASA, moving forward as standard product option

The certification comes at the tail end of of a multi-year partnership between Lockheed Martin and Sciaky, the company behind the EBAM development process.

0 August 27, 2018
Devin Jones

EBAM

Traditionally, it would take a year to secure a 4-foot-diameter, 4-inch-think titanium dome, but 3-D printing has eliminated that need.(PRNewsfoto/Sciaky, Inc.)

Lockheed Martin’s 3D printing process used to create two titanium fuel tanks earlier this year, has been certified by NASA and will move forward as a standard product option on LM 2100 satellites.

The last time we wrote about the titanium fuel tanks, Lockheed had successfully printed the two domes and welded them to a cylindrical frame.  Sciaky’s patented Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) process has since been certified after testing that was part of a multi-year development program with Lockheed.

“Sciaky’s EBAM technology is now the world’s only large-scale metal 3D printing process that has qualified applications for land, sea, air, and space,” said Scott Phillips, president and CEO of Sciaky, Inc. “We are delighted to work with the innovators at Lockheed Martin Space and will continue to push the boundaries of additive manufacturing.”

As previously reported, Lockheed’s ability to cut down on production time (a whopping 87 per cent) was one of the factors that led to a thumbs up from NASA. And while NASA isn’t specification as to the nature of their strict requirements, the process used on the LM 2100—Lockheed’s largest largest satellite bus—was enough to pass inspection.

According to a press release from Sciaky the EBAM “system has a gross deposition rate from 7 to 25 lbs. of metal per hour, and also uses the company’s Interlayer Real-Time Imaging and Sensing System (IRISS) for adaptive control.”

To help quantify just how large the titanium AM domes are, they can supposedly hold 74 gallons of coffee.


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