Lockheed 3D printing titanium space parts using garage sized printer

Lockheed is 3D printing titanum fuel tank for Lockheed Martin’s largest satellites. Using this manufacturing method, tank delivery time went down from two years to three months (nine times faster) and they are no longer wasting 80% of the materials.

The titanium tank consists of three parts welded together: two 3-D printed domes that serve as caps, plus a variable-length, traditionally-manufactured titanium cylinder that forms the body.

Satellite fuel tanks must be both strong and lightweight to withstand the rigors of launch and decade-long missions in the vacuum of space. That makes titanium an ideal material, but procuring 4-foot-diameter, 4-inch-thick titanium forgings can take a year or more, making them the most challenging and expensive parts of the tank. Traditional manufacturing techniques also meant that more than 80 percent of the material went to waste. Now, 3-D printing eliminates all that lost material for the domes, and the titanium used for printing is readily available with no wait time.

15 thoughts on “Lockheed 3D printing titanium space parts using garage sized printer”

  1. Building the first machine that can, given access to raw materials, build all the components to make a complete copy of itself may be insanely difficult and expensive, but it only has to be done once. Bonus points if it can also assemble them.* In the meantime, every step towards this becomes economically viable and, after that, an economic necessity. *In actuality, I expect what we would eventually see is a fabrication machine that can make fabricating robots, that can then help make another fabrication machine, and so on. Works for insects.

    Reply
  2. Building the first machine that can given access to raw materials build all the components to make a complete copy of itself may be insanely difficult and expensive but it only has to be done once. Bonus points if it can also assemble them.* In the meantime every step towards this becomes economically viable and after that an economic necessity.*In actuality I expect what we would eventually see is a fabrication machine that can make fabricating robots that can then help make another fabrication machine and so on. Works for insects.

    Reply
  3. I wonder if it would be possible to wire weld the tank as one piece. Basically slowly turn the base with wire feed welders with titanium just welding. It seems like you could position even the outlets where they need to be and it may be even faster.

    Reply
  4. I wonder if it would be possible to wire weld the tank as one piece. Basically slowly turn the base with wire feed welders with titanium just welding. It seems like you could position even the outlets where they need to be and it may be even faster.

    Reply
  5. I wonder if it would be possible to wire weld the tank as one piece. Basically slowly turn the base with wire feed welders with titanium just welding. It seems like you could position even the outlets where they need to be and it may be even faster.

    Reply
  6. Building the first machine that can, given access to raw materials, build all the components to make a complete copy of itself may be insanely difficult and expensive, but it only has to be done once. Bonus points if it can also assemble them.* In the meantime, every step towards this becomes economically viable and, after that, an economic necessity.

    *In actuality, I expect what we would eventually see is a fabrication machine that can make fabricating robots, that can then help make another fabrication machine, and so on. Works for insects.

    Reply

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