The Problem With 3D Printing in Space. Recently, NASA’s been caper with the concept of 3D-printed spacecraft, and therefore the prospect alone has fans of the medium absolutely giddy. however, in our 3D-printing-for-space mania, we’ve unnoticed the only downside of all: Imperfect surfaces and location do not combine. The potential of 3D printing in an area is extraordinary. Not solely will the method itself hamper on waste, however, the lighter, 3D-printed components would additionally mean less fuel consumption. sadly, as you’ll see within the below microscope close-up, 3D printing additionally leaves you with slightly imperfect (read: rough) surfaces.
And whereas this is often ok for temporal matters, location demands exactness. Any additional area between particles suggests that a so much larger risk of developing cracks. what is a lot of, that area makes it easier for loose particles floating around to urge caught within the jarring, 3D-printed surface? that may be a massive no-no for space-suitable materials, that square measure delayed to surgical standards of sterilization. in step with the EU area Agency (ESA), “Delicate satellite physical science or optics have within the past been fatally broken by particle contamination or outgassing.”
Now, in an endeavor to work out the way to create 3D printing a viable possibility for spaceflight, the ESA is launching Associate in Nursing investigation in numerous surface treatments like aluminum, titanium, and chrome steel, among others. The ESA explains: Different producing techniques, together with the optical device and electromagnetic wave melting, are going to be assessed, together with surface treatments like sandblasting, etching, nickel coating, and painting.
The mechanical properties of the processed components are going to be assessed for resistance to fretting corrosion and therefore the tendency to fracture. Of course, this does not mean that our dreams of a totally 3D-printed rocket got to be dashed-at least not nonetheless. there is still lots of potentials to be had, and a long, good distance to travel before we’ll recognize if that potential may ever become a reality.