ESA Announces The AMAZE Project to Bring Metal 3D Printing to Space

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The European Space Agency (ESA) is making a major push into metal 3D printing

Today, at the London Science Museum, the ESA is showcasing complex 3D printed parts made of metal that can withstand temperatures at 1000°C – fit for space and the most demanding applications on Earth.

Direct Metal Laser Sintering DMLS

Moving from plastic to metal

3D printers are great from rapid prototyping or creating industrial objects out of plastic, but what about metal?

The ESA and the EU, together with industrial and educational partners, are developing the first large-scale production methods to 3D print with metal. This technology would allow the creation of complex objects in space — imagine full-scale systems like reactors or rockets.

“We want to build the best quality metal products ever made. Objects you can’t possibly manufacture any other way,” said David Jarvis, ESA Head of New Materials and Energy Research, in an interview with BBC.

Titanium 3D Printed Structure

Above: a titanium 3D printed structure

This novel technology offers many advantages. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, can create complex shapes that are impossible to manufacture with traditional casting and machining techniques. Little to no material is wasted and cutting the number of steps in a manufacturing chain offers enormous cost benefits.

The AMAZE project – Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products – began in January and factory sites are being set up in France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the UK to develop the industrial supply chain.

Below is a video produced by the ESA.

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