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The first 3D printed parts on the moon

In 2021, North American 3D Printer Manufacturer AON3D will help Astrobotic become the first American lunar lander to soft land on the moon since Apollo 17 (Dec. 7, 1972).

The first 3D printed parts on the moon
READING TIME

2 minutes, 20 secondes

Onboard, hundreds of mission critical components and private payload ‘MoonBoxes’ will become the first 3D printed parts to successfully land on the moon.

The Technology

An industrial 3D printer for manufacturing strong, high-performance parts. The AON M2+ features a largest-in-class actively heated build volume that provides ungated access to thousands of applications and materials, including PEEK, PEKK, and ULTEM™.

The first 3D printed parts on the moon (@AON3D)

Astrobotic Peregrine lander

Designed to deliver commercial payloads to the surface of the moon, Astrobotic’s Peregrine Mission One (PM1) is set land on the moon in 2022. The lander will be launched aboard United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur rocket powered by a pair of BE-4 engines manufactured by Blue Origin, another AON3D customer.

The Parts

Prototypes
Full-scale Avionics boxes, relays, bus bars, connectors, and other mockups were printed in-house saving weeks in lead times at an order of a magnitude cheaper on a per part basis.

Electrical system components
Hundreds of fixtures and brackets replace metal components, ensuring avionics and electrical system integrity while reducing vehicle mass, enabling design freedom, and speeding production. Peregrine’s avionics perform all command and data handling for the lander.

3D printed parts replace metal components
3D printed parts replace metal components

MoonBoxes
The world’s first commercial payloads delivered to the Moon’s surface, including two minted cryptocurrencies, will be packaged in 3D printed boxes made from high-performance materials to reduce mass.

Kevin Han, CEO, AON3D said:
“In 1969, landing on the moon marked the pinnacle of human technology. Returning 52 years later with the help of 3D printing proves its readiness to revolutionize manufacturing beyond prototyping.”

Space/launch-grade requirements

Typical desktop 3D printing materials work great for visuel models but when mission-critical parts must perform under astronomical conditions, Astrobotic turned to the AON M2+ and high performance materials. Here’s what i takes for a 3D printed part to meet aerospace requirements:

  • Temperature: 260°F (127°C) to 280°F (-173°C)
  • Radiation: 200-1000x Earth’s surface
  • Vibroacoustics: 180 dB+
  • Non-outgassing under vacuum: CVC<0,1% an TM<1% per ASTM E595
  • High strength to weight ratio
  • Flame retardant
  • Chemically resistant
The AON M2+ features a largest-in-class actively heated build volume that provides ungated access to thousands of applications and materials, including PEEK, PEKK, and ULTEM™.
The AON M2+ features a largest-in-class actively heated build volume that provides ungated access to thousands of applications and materials, including PEEK, PEKK, and ULTEM™.

3D printed parts replace metal components

High-performance thermoplastics can withstand some of the most demanding applications while reducing vehicle mass. At the cost of $1.2m per kg to deliver a payload to the moon, Astrobotic was able to reduce weight by 50% weight on hundreds of aluminum parts with 3D printed thermoplastics. These thermoplastics are made in:

PEKK: A semi-crystalline high-performance material featuring very high stiffness, tensile strength, and impact resistance. Plus, PEKK can withstand continues operating temperatures of 250 – 260°C with low outgassing properties under vacuum.

ULTEM™: An amorphous high-performance material featuring many of the same characteristics of PEKK but varies in that it does not have a melting temperature, therefore only softens at high temperatures, giving it the ability to still hold electrical components in place.

More information www.aon3d.com