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Boeing’s Starliner Capsule Will Use 3D Printed Components

A Boeing representative told me the company has relied on 3D printing since 2003 and is currently using 50,000 parts made through additive manufacturing. She added that Oxford's 3D-printed parts will be used on the "air revitalization system, interior closeouts and support structures" on Boeing's three Starliner space taxis, which are scheduled to start test flights in 2018.

Boeing’s Starliner capsule will use 3D printed components

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Misuse or misplacement of components can hugely impact the project in terms of stability, scalability and efficiency. Thus, both Boeing and OPM are attempting to implement lightweight components to ensure the capsule is on par with the standards of NASA.

Traditional metallic and composite components are heavier in weight and less efficient in comparison to next-generation materials developed and designed specifically for the construction of large-scale aircraft. For this joint project, the development team at Boeing decided to replace metallic parts with 3D printed parts produced by OPM.

Chicago-headquartered aerospace manufacturers Boeing (LOD:BOE) has revealed they will utilize 3D printing to manufacture future satellites. In an effort to increase turnaround time and lower costs of production, Boeing will use additive manufacturing to create modular components. At the beginning of January 2017 the company also enlisted Oxford Performance Materials to 3D print parts for their CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

Vertical launch vehicle Orbex Prime will use a large 3D printed rocket engine uniquely manufactured in a single piece without joints, seams, or welds. The complex part, developed by UK-based startup Orbex, is expected to withstand extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations while traveling to orbit. Conceived and developed as an environmentally sustainable launch system, Orbex Prime will use renewable biofuels to deliver an industry-leading ultra-low carbon dioxide footprint.

One of the first companies to complete the first round of hot-fire testing of a 3D printed Reaction Control System (RCS) thruster, Parabilis Space Technologies, uses advanced manufacturing for launch vehicles and spacecraft parts. This was a massive step toward demonstrating that a 3D printed Liquid Oxygen (LOX)-methane thruster can be used in space. When commercialized, it will dramatically change the relationship between cost and performance. Parabilis is also developing novel AM methods to enable the use of multiple dissimilar materials in 3D printed parts for space thrusters and spacecraft structures and more technologies toward lunar exploration spacecraft.

Airbus has 3D printed a total of 500 radio frequency (RF) components, made of multi-waveguide blocks and switch assembly networks, for two Eurostar Neo spacecraft that will join the in-orbit fleet of Eutelsat, a primary provider of satellite communications services. RF components are at the heart of every telecommunications satellite, and now these parts are being produced by Airbus in large volumes.

Focused on providing 3D printed antenna products for high-performance space applications, Optisys believes metal 3D printing promises to reduce the size and weight of critical satellite components significantly. The company uses metal AM to create critical parts for satellites and expects to bring increased capabilities to the burgeoning satellite industry that are otherwise impossible with traditional fabrication methods.

The U.S. aerospace giant is working on the CST-100 Starliner space crew capsules. These passenger taxis will initially take NASA astronauts to and from the ISS and are expected to take civilians later on. To supply over 600 3D printed components for the three Starliner capsules, Boeing turned to Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), saving close to 60% compared with traditional manufacturing.

German space and technology group OHB will develop a 3D printer prototype for the ISS for large part production using high-strength and functional thermoplastics. The undertaking is part of the IMPERIAL project, aiming to design, develop, and test a 3D printer model that alleviates build volume constraints while meeting the ISS fabrication requirements. The 3D printed parts produced using this system will demonstrate extraterrestrial manufacturing potential, enabling new maintenance and life support strategies for human space flight.

As the hype around additive construction continues to grow on Earth, NASA has tapped companies for a project to deliver the technology to the Moon. The highly-publicized project Olympus aims to develop a method for robotic building on the moon. The idea is to create 3D printed lunar housing infrastructure using materials found on the surface. For now, Big and ICON will explore additive construction of a simulant of moon soil. ICON has already explored various building forms ideal for containing atmospheric pressure and optimized for protection from cosmic and solar radiation. Moreover, the habitat will be designed with the inherent redundancy required for extraterrestrial buildings while also using groundbreaking robotic construction that uses only in-situ resources, leaving zero-waste.

Norsk Titanium AS is a Norwegian company regarded as a pioneer supplier of 3D-printed aerospace-grade titanium structural components. The company has a patented wire-based printing process that promises big savings compared to the conventional manufacturing process.

Norsk will manufacture the structural components that were designed by Boeing, which will be involved throughout the development process. The two companies undertook a lengthy program of testing to ensure that printed parts, as well as the manufacturing process, will be approved by the U.S. regulatory commission, the FAA, later this year.

While at first glance, the Boeing Starliner spacecraft may look like the space capsules usedby astronauts Neil Armstrong, John Glenn and other early space flight pioneers, it offers much more than a quick jump to outer space.Commissioned as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program, Starlinercan transport a crew of up to seven people to the International Space Station and stay in orbit for nearly seven months. The spacecraft is intended to be reused up to 10 times and will serve as a replacement for the now retired NASA space shuttle program.

General Dynamics is providing three Flight Computers for each Starliner capsule. These flight computers will host the Boeing Operational Flight Program (OFP) which control the capsule from booster separation, through dock and return to earth. The two System Management Computers (SMC) for each Starliner capsule will capture and collect sensor data across numerous systems to process, encrypt, store, network and drive the spacecraft to complete its mission.

In addition to our communications transponders and computers, the Starliner Orbital Flight Test will include items that are very close to home for our employees. Boeing allocated General Dynamics with two pounds of cargo space from a list of items based on specific safety and mission guidelines.Heading to space aboard Starliner's inaugural voyage will be 1,000 badge-size cards featuring details of our products, a 3D-printed model of the communications transponder, and one of our favorite toys, a General Dynamics stuffed eaglet. The items will be displayed in our Scottsdale, AZ and Bloomington, MN facilities to commemorate the flight when the capsule returns.

741 unique polymer AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core polymer AM market generated $4.6 billion...Buy nowDavide SherSince 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.LinkedInFabrica Group will launch Fabrica 2.0 micro AM technology at FormnextAnisoprint and Bosch Rexroth partner on industrial continuous fiber AMRelated ArticlesESA approves Windform RS and Windform LX 3.0 for space flightFebruary 8, 2023Omnidirectional GPS antenna 3D printed by Lockheed MartinFebruary 7, 2023Lockheed Martin is 3D printing full F-35 simulator cockpitsFebruary 7, 2023Freeform emerges from stealth with autonomous printing factoriesFebruary 2, 2023Check AlsoCloseConsumer ProductsInnovators show 3D printed eyewear at MIDO 2023February 6, 2023eBooks3dpbm Automotive AM Focus 2023 eBookFebruary 1, 2023Newsletter(function() listeners: [],forms: on: function(evt, cb) window.mc4wp.listeners.push(event : evt,callback: cb);)();

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Feb.17, 2017 - Mike Eaton of Jessco Racing, a local motorcycle builder in Bellingham, Washington, is trying to break the world record for fastest land speed in the 3000 CC class ' and this summer he may finally be able to do it, thanks to 3D printed engine components. More

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