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Stratasys to test 3-D printed material performance on Moon

Ground testing suggests potential for 50% radiation dose reduction

Posted on 19 Mar 2024 and read 827 times
Stratasys to test 3-D printed material performance on MoonSSTEF radiation experiment housing

Stratasys Ltd, a leader in polymer 3-D printing solutions, has announced that it will provide 3-D printed materials for an upcoming lunar mission to test their performance on the surface of the Moon. The experiments are part of Aegis Aerospace Inc’s first Space Science & Technology Evaluation Facility mission (SSTEF-1). SSTEF is a commercial space testing service, developed by Aegis Aerospace in Houston, Texas under NASA’s Tipping Point programme, to provide R&D services on the lunar surface. The SSTEF-1 project focuses on technology development for space infrastructure and capabilities for the Moon and near-Earth space. The Stratasys’ experiments are sponsored by Northrop Grumman Corporation.

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

Moon dust

The first experiment assesses the performance of a sample coupon part made with Stratasys’ Antero 800NA FDM filament filled with tungsten. Antero 800NA is a high-performance PEKK-based thermoplastic with excellent 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 3-D printed materials perform in space. It will include Antero 840CN03 FDM filament, which features 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 3-D printers and designed for high-heat environments. This experiment will subject coupon samples of the 3-D 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.

Chief industrial business officer Rich Garrity said: “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 3-D printing to keep people and equipment safe as we travel to the Moon and beyond.”

Parts will be brought to the lunar surface by an unmanned lander in a Stratasys 3-D printed carrier structure made from ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic, which is a material also commonly used in commercial aircraft interiors.