Researchers from Deakin University in Victoria are developing a unique manufacturing process which allows 3D printers to produce miniaturised, light weight metal parts and components onboard spacecrafts or in low-gravity environments such as the moon.
The process, developed in partnership with Virginia Tech in the United States and 3D printing pioneer MELD Manufacturing, uses scrap metal to print new metal parts and components without melting it, offering stronger and better-quality parts.
The process is ideal in zero or low gravity environments because it does not produce molten metal, a danger in space. It also provides a sustainable method of replacing parts while in space by turning end-of-life metals already in space into source material for new parts through 3D printing. The technology has received strong interest from the United States Air Force.
Deakin University is a leader in the innovative use of digital technology and its Advanced Manufacturing and Simulation Lab is known globally for its research in the production of lighter weight parts using advanced metals and the latest cutting-edge manufacturing processes.
In a boost to Victoria’s international research and education capabilities, the project has also unlocked new avenues for collaboration between Deakin University and Virginia Tech building student pipelines for joint degree programs and ongoing student experience partnerships.