How 3D printing technologies are used in space
Today almost anything can be printed on 3D printers, from medical prostheses to large architectural buildings. 3D printing technologies can also help in space flights. Let’s find out for what purposes 3D printing is used in space and what benefits additive technologies will bring to the exploration of other planets.
How is 3D printing used in space?
3D printing technologies are widely used for the production of parts for space ships. They allow reducing production expenses, improving quality and strength of component parts, and speeding up the manufacturing process.
Aerospace companies are actively using additive technologies to produce parts for engines, and to print satellites.
It also happens that 3D printers are sent into flights together with astronauts, providing a possibility to print the required parts straight in the space ship.
Who is already using 3D printers?
Many corporations practice the use of the technology. For instance, the well-known company of Elon Musk SpaceX used a 3D printer to produce engines for the Dragon space ship, and the Boeing Company 3D prints satellites. Moreover, the company 3D printed 600 parts for Starliner spacecraft that are tested in July of 2018.
Russia does not lag behind and adopts additive manufacturing in the space sector, for example, parts of aerial vehicles are printed on Router 3131 3D printer.
The latest products
In 2018, 3D printing space technologies have been seen in a new light. The latest developments include a titanium fuel tank for satellites made by Lockheed Martin. It consists of three parts, two of which are produced using additive manufacturing, namely covers. In July of 2018, the company has successfully finished the trials of the tank.
NASA also deploys 3D printing for its missions. This year, it has been reported that more than 100 parts of the Orion space capsule will be 3D printed in order to improve the performance of the machine. Its launch is scheduled for 2019.
Furthermore, this year NASA announced the project intended for monitoring the state of astronauts – a 3D printed health system. As it is important to track health parameters during the mission, special printed tools will allow monitoring test results without sending them to the earth.
Russia is planning to test 3D bioprinting in space. For that purpose, the United Rocket and Space Corporation signed an agreement with 3D Bioprinting Solutions. An experimental 3D bio-printer will be sent to the ISS in the autumn of 2018.
According to Roscosmos representatives, 3D bioprinting will allow building human skin tissues and later body organs.
Application of 3D printing technologies in various areas will be discussed at 3D Print Expo Moscow. Details about the event and registration are available on the official website.