• 3D printed samples to face lunar compatibility tests

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3D printed samples to face lunar compatibility tests

Mar 13 2024

Polymer 3D printing solutions provider Stratasys is joining an upcoming lunar mission that will test the performance of 3D-printed materials on the surface of the moon. The experiments are part of Aegis Aerospace Inc’s (Houston,Texas) first Space Science & Technology Evaluation Facility mission (SSTEF-1), a commercial space testing service developed under NASA’s Tipping Point program, to provide R&D services on the lunar surface. The Stratasys experiments are sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation.

In this moon mission, 3D-printed samples will be brought to the lunar surface by an unmanned lander in a carrier structure 3D-printed by Stratasys. Three materials will be the focus of two different experiments led by Northrop Grumman.

The first experiment assesses the performance of a sample coupon part made with Stratasys’ Antero® 800NA FDM® filament filled with tungsten. This is a high-performance PEKK-based thermoplastic with demonstrating good mechanical properties, chemical resistance and low outgassing characteristics. Adding tungsten is intended to provide shielding against harmful radiation such as gamma rays or x-rays.

The second passive experiment is designed to see how 3D-printed materials perform in space. It will include Antero 840CN03 FDM filament, which features electrostatic discharge (ESD) properties for use with electronics and was used on the Orion spacecraft. The experiment will also include a new ESD photopolymer manufactured by Stratasys partner Henkel for use with Stratasys’ Origin® One 3D printers and designed for high-heat environments. This experiment will subject coupon samples of the 3D-printed materials to moon dust, low pressure that can lead to outgassing and the rapid temperature swings that result from virtually no atmosphere on the moon.

“Additive manufacturing is an important technology for space missions where every ounce of weight matters and high performance is essential,” said Chief Industrial Business Officer Rich Garrity. “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.”

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