Stratasys to test 3D printed material performance on Moon

2 Mins read
Stratasys to test 3D printed material performance on Moon
FDM Antero 840CN03 radiation experiment housing with red UTLEM 9085 “Remove Before Flight” cover to protect the test samples during transport and installation/Source: Stratasys

Stratasys, a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions, has announced that it will provide 3D printed materials for an upcoming lunar mission. The idea is to test its 3D printed material performance on Moon. The experiments are part of Aegis Aerospace, Inc.’s inaugural Space Science and Technology Evaluation Facility mission (SSTEF-1). SSTEF is a commercial space testing service developed by Aegis Aerospace in Houston, Texas as part of NASA’s Tipping Point programme to provide research and development services on the lunar surface.

The SSTEF-1 project focuses on the development of space infrastructure and capabilities for the moon and near-Earth space. The Stratasys experiments are funded by Northrop Grumman Corporation.

3D Printed Material Performance on Moon

FDM Antero 840CN03 radiation experiment housing containing radiation shielding test samples
FDM Antero 840CN03 radiation experiment housing containing radiation shielding test samples/Source: Stratasys

Stratasys will provide 3D-printed samples for this moon mission, which will be transported to the lunar surface by an unmanned lander in a Stratasys-created carrier structure. Northrop Grumman will conduct two separate experiments focusing on three different materials.

The first experiment evaluates the performance of a sample coupon part created using Stratasys’ Antero® 800NA FDM® filament filled with tungsten. Antero 800NA is a high-performance PEKK thermoplastic with superior mechanical properties, chemical resistance, and low outgassing. The addition of tungsten is intended to provide shielding against harmful radiation such as gamma rays and x-rays.

The second passive experiment aims to determine how 3D-printed materials perform in space. It will include Antero 840CN03 FDM filament, which has ESD properties for electronics and was used on the Orion spacecraft.

The experiment will also include a new ESD photopolymer developed by Stratasys partner Henkel for use with Stratasys’ Origin® One 3D printers and designed for high-temperature environments. This experiment will subject coupon samples of 3D-printed materials to moon dust, low pressure, which can lead to outgassing, and the rapid temperature swings caused by the moon’s lack of atmosphere.

“Additive manufacturing is an important technology for space missions where every ounce of weight matters and high performance is essential. This set of experiments will help us understand how to fully leverage 3D printing to keep people and equipment safe as we travel to the moon and beyond.”

– Rich Garrity, Chief Industrial Business Officer, Stratasys

An unmanned lander will deliver parts to the lunar surface using a Stratasys 3D printed carrier structure made of ULTEM™ 9085 thermoplastic, a material also used in commercial aircraft interiors.

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Abhimanyu Chavan is the founder of Manufactur3D Magazine. He writes on Additive Manufacturing technology, interviews industry leaders, shares industry insights, and expresses his thoughts on the latest developments in the industry. You can follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.
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