Made In Space to launch it’s latest AM technology to the ISS
Space bound 3D printer to test viability of producing high performance ceramic parts using micro-gravity environment.
CMM will demonstrate the viability of manufacturing with pre-ceramic resins – soft materials present before the manufacturing begins that become hardened during the process – in a stereolithography (SLA) environment. According to the company, manufacturing on-orbit in the microgravity environment could enable temperature-resistant, reinforced ceramic parts with better performance. Those improvements include higher strength and lower residual stress, due to a reduction in defects caused by gravity, such as sedimentation and composition gradients that occur in terrestrial manufacturing.
Stereolithography or Digital Light Processing (DLP) is a high-resolution 3D printing approach based on UV curing of liquid resins in a layer-by-layer fashion. For CMM, MIS will print an advanced ceramic matrix composite (CMC) material that consists of a pre-ceramic resin reinforced with ceramic particles. The microgravity environment on the ISS is considered especially beneficial for processing such particle suspensions as the settling of particles is mitigated.
Once the manufacturing device returns to Earth, the manufactured blisks are then heat-treated to create the final product of a Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC). CMCs have the potential to perform at hundreds of degrees hotter than the best superalloys and can have a clear advantage over previously used metal components used in aircraft engines.
MIS is developing this technology for commercialization alongside technical partners HRL Laboratories of Malibu, California and Sierra Turbines of San Jose, California.