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Orion Spacecraft NASA’s First to Use 3D-Printed Parts

CNET News (4/17, Al-Heeti) reports that Lockheed Martin, Stratasys, and Phoenix Analysis & Design Technologies (PADT) announced Tuesday that they will manufacture and deploy 3D-printed parts for NASA’s Orion spacecraft, the first of the agency’s spacecraft to include such parts. Orion’s unmanned test flight, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), is planned for December 2019, to be followed by the manned EM-2 mission to lunar orbit. The EM-2 mission will “use more than 100 3D-printed parts, making it the first manned US-led spacecraft to use parts made through the process.”

The parts will include a cover for Orion’s docking hatch, as well as brackets and other smaller elements. In order to ensure that the parts are able to stand up to harsh conditions, the companies “opted to use a specialized 3D-printed material from Stratasys called Antero 800NA, a thermoplastic with high strength, as well as heat and chemical resistance.” The material does not build up a charge and can withstand high mechanical loads. 

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