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3/14/2016 | 1 MINUTE READ

Orion Space Capsule Will be 3D-Printed Onsite at RAPID 2016

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We’ve seen 3D-printed cars, kayaks, even a house. So naturally a spacecraft is next on the agenda.

We’ve seen 3D-printed cars, kayaks, even a house. So naturally a spacecraft is next on the agenda.


SME, Dearborn, Mich. along with Lockheed Martin, Bethesda, MD; FARO Technologies, Lake Marry, Fla.; Direct Dimensions Inc., Owings Mills, MD.; Met-L-Flo Inc., Sugar Grove, Ill.; Florida Institute of Technology; and Cincinnati Inc., Harrison, Ohio have taken the first-ever 3D scan of the Orion crew module, which will later be 3D-printed into small-scale replicas.


The Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther into space than they've ever gone before, serving as the exploration vehicle that will carry astronauts to deep space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain and protect the crew, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. Orion will launch on NASA's new heavy-lift rocket, the Space Launch System.


"Additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies are widely used to produce aerospace and other high-performance products," said Carl Dekker, president of Met-L-Flo. "It is exciting that we are using 3D scanning and additive manufacturing to reproduce 3D models of the Orion—a spacecraft which may carry these technologies to other planets."


FARO conducted a 3D laser scan (pictured) of an Orion spacecraft model, while Direct Dimensions will be responsible for the file that is prepared and then 3D printed by Met-L-Flo. Met-L-Flo will print approximately 150 small-scale replicas of the Orion spacecraft to be displayed and used as giveaways at SME's 3D technology event RAPID 2016 (May 16-19; Orlando, Fla). Students from Florida Tech students participated in the scan and discussed how the next generation of manufacturing professionals are being educated on advanced manufacturing technology and applications.

SME's Beth Oates told Plastics Technology that Met-L-Flo will utilize Accura 25 SLA resin for the small-scale replicas. 

Additionally, CI will use its Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) technology to print an Orion replica in several large pieces and assemble onsite at RAPID 2016. At this time, CI has not determined what material it will use for the full-scale replica. I talked with CI recently about all things BAAM so be sure to check it out in the April edition of Plastics Technology magazine. 



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