Additive technology supplier Stratasys Ltd and simulation technology company 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.
Stratasys will supply advanced materials to the project, including an ESD variant of its Antero 800NA, a PEKK-based thermoplastic offering high performance mechanical, chemical, and thermal properties.
Orion is NASA’s spacecraft that will send astronauts to the Moon and beyond.
Orion’s next test flight, dubbed Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), will be the first integration mission with the world’s most powerful rocket, the Space Launch System, where an un-crewed Orion will fly thousands of miles beyond the Moon during an approximately three-week mission.
The following flight, EM-2, will also go near the Moon, but with astronauts on board, a first since 1972.
The EM-2 mission will use more than 100 3D printed production parts on board, engineered in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, Stratasys and PADT.
The production-grade, thermoplastic 3D printed parts for NASA’s Orion vehicle are produced at the additive manufacturing lab at Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed Martin will use the new thermoplastic 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.
“Working with PADT, Stratasys, and NASA has enabled us to achieve highly consistent builds that move beyond the realm of prototyping and into production,” said Brian Kaplun, manager of additive manufacturing at Lockheed Martin Space.
According to Kaplun, the project will reshape the companies’ production strategy make spacecraft more affordable and faster to produce.
“The demands of space travel require extremely high-performance materials and the most rigorous manufacturing processes in the industry. Part integrity and repeatability are essential and must pass NASA’s demanding testing and validation process,” said Scott Sevcik, vice president of manufacturing at Stratasys, commenting on the partnership.