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Stratasys Will Transport 3D Printed Parts To The Moon for Space Experiments


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On March 14, 2024, Antarctic Bear learned that Stratasys will provide 3D printed materials for upcoming lunar missions to test their performance on the lunar surface. These experiments are part of Aegis Space's first Space Science and Technology Evaluation Facility Mission (SSTEF-1). SSTEF is a commercial space test service developed by Aegis Aerospace in Houston, Texas under NASA's Tipping Point program to provide research and development services on the lunar surface. The SSTEF-1 program focuses on the technological development of lunar and near-Earth space infrastructure and capabilities. The Stratasys experiment was sponsored by Northrop Grumman.

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


The first experiment evaluated the performance of filling tungsten sample parts with Stratasys' Antero®800NA FDM. Antero 800NA is a high-performance PEKK-based thermoplastic with excellent mechanical properties, chemical resistance and low volatility. Tungsten is added to provide protection against harmful radiation, such as gamma rays or X-rays.

Antero 800NA offers excellent chemical resistance and ultra-low gas release, superior to other high performance thermoplastics. In addition, the material has high temperature resistance and excellent wear resistance. Aerospace and other high-performance automotive manufacturers looking to move to additive manufacturing processes are expected to be among the most interested in Antero 800NA. Its excellent chemical resistance means that it can be used in parts exposed to hydrocarbons, such as fuels and lubricants, as well as many acids. In addition, its low gas release allows it to be used in confined Spaces and sensitive environments, such as satellites, where materials may not release gas in a vacuum. The high operating temperature of the Antero 800NA is designed to enable it to be used in applications under the hood or in the engine bay. Using Antero 800NA for custom or small-batch additive manufacturing offers economic advantages over traditional processing processes. In traditional processes, manufacturers buy bulk PEKK (limited in shape and size) and process it into a net shape, which wastes a lot of expensive material and has long lead times. With additive processes, workflows are faster and lighter weight, topologically optimized and smaller parts can be produced.


The second passive experiment aims to observe how 3D printed materials behave in space. It will include Antero 840CN03 FDM wire, which has ESD characteristics suitable for electronic devices and was used on the Orion spacecraft. The experiment will also include a new ESD photopolymer manufactured by Stratasys partner Henkel for use in Stratasys' Origin® One 3D printer, designed for high-thermal environments. The experiment will subject 3D printed samples to lunar dust, low pressure that can cause exhaust, and rapid temperature fluctuations caused by the moon having little atmosphere.

Rich Garrity, chief Industrial business officer, said: "Additive manufacturing is an important technology for space missions, where every 1g of weight matters and high performance is critical. "This set of experiments will help us understand how to make the most of 3D printing to ensure the safety of people and equipment as we travel to the Moon and beyond."

Parts will be delivered to the lunar surface via an unmanned lander using a Stratasys 3D-printed carrier structure made of ULTEM™ 9085 thermoplastic, a material also commonly used in commercial aircraft interiors.

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