NASA’s Orion deep-space spacecraft gets fitted with 3D printed parts
Orion mission will use more than 100 3D printed production parts on board, engineered in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, Stratasys and PADT.
Stratasys and Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies, Inc. (PADT) are teaming with Lockheed Martin Space to deliver next-generation 3D printed parts for NASA’s Orion deep-space spacecraft.
NASA’s Orion spacecraft is set to send astronauts to the Moon and potentially to far distant planets. In the meantime, Orion will undergo a test flight — Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) — where an un-crewed Orion will fly thousands of miles beyond the Moon during an approximately three week mission.
After this test flight, the spacecraft will undergo a second test phase to the moon, this time with astronauts on board, a first since 1972. The mission will use more than 100 3D printed production parts on board, engineered in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, Stratasys and PADT.
Stratasys advanced materials — including an ESD variant of the new Antero 800NA, a PEKK-based thermoplastic offering high performance mechanical, chemical, and thermal properties — are key to the projects success.
The 3D printed parts for NASA’s Orion spacecraft are produced at the Additive Manufacturing Lab at Lockheed Martin in conjunction with PADT, which now employs the latest inStratasys 3D printers and materials.
Advanced materials such as ULTEM 9085 resin and the new Antero material could help NASA meet key requirements for 3D printed parts to perform in the extremes of deep space. Antero is ideally suited to meet NASA’s requirements for heat and chemical resistance, along with the ability to withstand high mechanical loads.
Lockheed Martin is using Antero for a critical part situated just outside of Orion’s docking hatch. The complex part consists of six individual 3D printed components locked together to form a ring on the craft’s exterior.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the Orion mission and Lockheed Martin’s efforts to transition additive manufacturing from prototyping to production,” said Rey Chu, Principal and Co-Owner at PADT. “Additive manufacturing technology and materials have come a long way to become a full-fledged end-use manufacturing option.”