Space travel is one of the most exciting industries of the 21st century. NASA’s latest plans not only push the boundaries of aerospace but also have stirred attention in the 3D printing industry.

In 2019, NASA is scheduled to launch an incredible deep space mission using a new spacecraft known as Orion.

The project involves contracts with third-party companies Lockheed Martin and Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies. These companies are working together to meet the project deadline and ensure reliable components are used throughout the creation process.

3D Printed Components

One of the unique aspects of the Orion project is the decision to move forward with 3D printed components.

NASA agreed to include the use of over 100 3D printed parts within its construction. The 3D printed components are specially designed for the Orion project needs. The components will be commissioned to address a variety of functions.

For example, one of the biggest 3D printed parts is used for the docking hatch cover. The cover was 3D printed with a high-quality thermoplastic material—necessary to protect the inside of the craft from the hazards of space.

Proven Through Testing

This isn’t the first time NASA has investigated the potential of 3D printed parts. In December of 2017, NASA published an article discussing various testing trials. These evaluations helped better understand the quality aspects of different 3D printing materials and their potential uses in aerospace.

3D Printing in Aerospace

NASA is not the only aerospace company to invest in 3D printed components. The privately owned corporation SpaceX has notoriously taken advantage of 3D printing capabilities for several of their projects over the years.

This latest announcement from NASA has proven to be a wonderful step for industrial scale 3D printing. These projects help support 3D printing and refine the technology for the future.