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3D Printing made GIANT LEAPS into Aerospace

As the first advocate of 3D printing technology, aerospace industry is such a driving force of empowering this technology for producing end-use parts and prototyping. 3D printing technology enables to rapidly aircraft parts on demand which saves large amounts of space, time and money, thus breaking the limits of supply chain constraints, limit warehouse space, also reducing materials waste. The aerospace industry leaps forward with continuous empowerment of 3D printing technology.

3D printing could be key to a Moon base.

European Space Agency (ESA) is researching technologies based on 3D printing and metallurgy technology to see how materials found on the lunar surface could be made into products to help with habitation on the Moon, especially for protection from the heat and cold on the Moon, and protection from the radiation that will be very hazardous for astronauts. BBC News reported.
With 3D printing technology, we can not only print what we want to print, but also help trace the geographical developments in space other than those has happened on Earth. ESA researchers also explain that the permanent habitation could be settled in the next 20 – 30 years.

NASA is Building a 3D Printer in Space

It is also reported that NASA has funded a project to 3D-print spacecraft components off world. NASA announced (in news we first heard at Engadget) that it has awarded a $73.7 million contract to Made in Space, Inc to “demonstrate the ability of a small spacecraft, called Archinaut One, to manufacture and assemble spacecraft components in low-Earth orbit.” 
“Archinaut One is expected to launch on a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from New Zealand no earlier than 2022. Once it’s positioned in low-Earth orbit, the spacecraft will 3D-print two beams that extend 32 feet (10 meters) out from each side of the spacecraft. As manufacturing progresses, each beam will unfurl two solar arrays that generate as much as five times more power than traditional solar panels on spacecraft of similar size.” NASA says this technology could be important for a possible manned mission to Mars. That showed both the printing equipment and printed hardware could “withstand the pressure, temperature, and other rigors of space.”
If it can be done successfully it will open up a number of huge possibilities for space travel, including reducing the costs, risks, and limitations associated with traveling the cosmos. 

NASA says benefits would include:
-Enabling remote, in-space construction of communications antennae, large-scale space telescopes and other complex structures
-Enabling small satellites to deploy large surface area power systems and reflectors that currently are reserved for larger satellites
-Eliminating spacecraft volume limits imposed by rockets
-Avoiding the inherent risk of spacewalks by performing some tasks currently completed by astronauts

What benefits can 3D printing bring to Aerospace?
3D printing helps in making lightweight, improved and complex geometries, which reduces product life cycle costs. 3D printing has the potential to drastically reduce resources, energy requirement, and process-related CO2 emission per unit of GDP [5, 11-14]. In the aerospace industry, this could lead to fuel savings, where every kilogram of material saved reduces the annual fuel expenses by US$3000. As a result the raw material demands and material wastage is significantly reduced.
Furthermore, production in aerospace has the potential to decrease decommissioning-related CO2 emissions and TPES demands. In addition, AM technologies reduce down time, overall operation costs, and the capacity utilization. With AM customer needs can be greatly satisfied, supply chain management can be improved, and the inventory requirements can be reduced

What can 3D printing do for Aerospace in the future?
NASA is just one of the examples of how major organizations are turning to 3D printing to solve complex engineering problems and create specialized parts. But what is next on the horizon for 3D printing in aerospace?
As metal 3D printing advances, we predict vital components of both domestic aircrafts and spaceships will adopt additive manufacturing methods using custom alloys and high-end lightweight thermoplastics. Companies like Boeing are already investing in metal 3D printing companies, like Desktop Metal with the hopes of utilizing these new technologies for research and development as well as end-use-parts for aircraft. With expanding capabilities, 3D printing will be an even more practical solution for aerospace manufacturing.
As if 3D printing on the ground isn’t high tech enough, additive technologies are also being tested in space. NASA even foresees future spacecrafts coming equipped with 3D printers, so scientists can send astronauts digital CADD files to be printed. The ability to create unforeseen tools on a space mission is game changing.

Source:  Creality3d technology Co. Ltd
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Date: 2019.7.24