3D Printing Flies High DesignNews

3D printing techniques are reaching into space to help NASA astronauts. They’re also creating production metal and plastic parts for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), fighter jets, commercial planes, and cars. Research is underway to develop additive manufacturing (AM) techniques for making end-use parts for cars and planes from aluminum powders and other materials, including 3D printing carbon composites. Materials and processes are now pushing the edges of what’s possible in automotive and aerospace applications.
When humans get to Mars, they will drive around the surface of the Red Planet in a rover much bigger than Curiosity that incorporates AM-made parts. NASA is testing a manned Mars rover in Arizona under its Desert Research and Technology Studies (RATS) program. It’s about the size of a Humvee, has a pressurized cabin for two astronauts, and 12 wheels on six axles for navigating irregular terrain.