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MTC and NASA partnership underway for space additive manufacturing technologies

Following the establishment of the Additive Manufacturing Benchmarking Center (AMBC) by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), located in Coventry, UK, is developing a partnership with NASA scientists for technology used on space missions.

“NASA came to us through our collaboration within the ASTM Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence and our existing links to the space sector, particularly ESA,” explained David Wimpenny, Chief Technologist at the MTC.

“There are many areas in which we could work together, including additive manufacture, the certification of AM printed parts and other manufactured parts, inspection technology for thin-walled lightweight parts and extreme high-temperature testing.”

Inside the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing at Coventry's MTC. Photo via The MTC
Inside the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing at Coventry’s MTC. Photo via The MTC

NASA and the MTC

Earlier this year, US scientists from five NASA centers, including the Kennedy Space Centre, visited the MTC. Following this visit, the scientists became interested in becoming involved in projects focusing on the production of complex and high-stress 3D printed components.

NASA is also interested in the MTC’s work on component certification and standards. In addition, the MTC and NASA are also in discussions on technologies including robotic processing, high-temperature alloys, and ceramics.

“The NASA additive technologies team is excited about developing future collaborative opportunities. Our team was extremely impressed with the capabilities and staff at the MTC. Working with the ESA we anticipate utilizing the MTC and the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing as part of our future collaborative efforts.” said Rick Russell, a technologist at NASA.

A sample of 3D printed Mars simulate regolith dust. Photo via Fotec/ESA
A sample of 3D printed Mars simulate regolith dust. Photo via Fotec/ESA

ASTM’s Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence

In March 2018, ASTM selected EWI, Auburn University, and NASA for the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence program to help advance the current state of additive manufacturing. The MTC was also selected as a founding partner later this year to develop standards for feedstock-characterization. The MTC is also expected to produce a guide to help evaluate the quality and recyclability of metal additive manufacturing powders.

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Featured image shows inside the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing at Coventry’s MTC. Photo via The MTC.

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