MakerBot’s 3D printers have numerous applications and use cases including several parts for
prototyping, proof of concept components for the rover projects such as installed system housings, sensor mounts and other bespoke parts.
These printed parts are designed to withstand extreme environmental temperatures and conditions,
Lockheed Martin has leveraged Stratasys SR 30 sand Makerbot Abs soluble support materials.
Makerbot ABS utilizes these materials to give a smoother surface finish,
The solvent support materials open up more dynamic shapes that would have been unattainable.
Martin Lockheed says ” this is the earliest development stage,
and the rover ATC is a testbed that we designed and developed in-house,”
Aaron Christian, Space Senior Mechanical Engineer also added
“The cost-effective testbed enables quick changes using 3D printing to change the design for other use- cases, whether it be search and rescue, military, or intense environment autonomy needs.”
Created with Makerbot technology is a mount for LIDAR, a sensor that can detect the proximity of objects around it. printed in ABD instead of PLA,
the sensor is mounted on the rover and can withstand intense conditions.
The design allows engineers repeatedly to swap the LIDAR with multiple sensors, e.g stereo cameras and direction antennas,
it was also designed to enable proper airflow so the parts are kept regulated even when in use
However, the installed electronics housing that protects electronics from the impact was printed in PLA.
This part is designed to enter the rover or in other automatons at the ATC and has a regulator to cool down the system.
Commercialising 3d printing
The synergy between 3D printing and space travel cannot be overemphasised, from near finish parts to cost-effective parts that help commercialise the industry,
The potential is endless.
Speaking on the relationship between 3d printing and space tech
Aaron Christian noted
“The simplification of designs for 3d printed parts in space application is a major advantage,”
” “You can create more complex shapes. It reduces the number of fasteners needed and part count,
which is cost-effective because that’s one less part that has to be tested or assembled. This also opens up future in-situ assembly in space.
You have designed, printed and tested the part on Earth.
Now you know that, in the future, you can 3D print that same part in space because you have shown that the material and part work there.”
Lockheed Martin sees The huge potential of 3D printing in terms of cost-saving,
design dexterity and of course harnessing a digital reserve of part files.