Mar 2, 2016 | By Kira

A host of 3D scanning, 3D printing, and aerospace companies today joined forces to take the first ever 3D scan of the Orion crew model, an integral part of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, designed to carry humans farther into space than ever before. The 3D scan will be used to 3D print roughly 150 small-scale replicas of the crew module, as well as one larger replica, which is to be 3D printed using Cincinnati Inc.’s large-format BAAM technology. Participants include Lockheed Martin, FARO Technologies, Direct Dimensions, Met-L-Flo, the Florida Institute of Technology, Cincinnati Inc., and SME, along with its annual RAPID 3D printing event.

NASA's Orion Spacecract Crew Module

Industry-leading 3D scanning company FARO began yesterday by creating a 3D laser scan of the Orion crew module, which measures 5m in diameter and 3m in length, using its Focus 3D X330 Scanner. Throughout the process, students from the Florida Institute of Technology were invited to participate in the 3D scan and discuss how the next generation of manufacturing professionals are being educated on advanced manufacturing technology, including 3D printing and scanning.

Next, 3D engineering company Direct Dimensions will take the 3D scan and convert it into a 3D printable digital model. Finally, additive manufacturing firm Met-L-Flo will take care of the 3D printing, creating approximately 150 miniature replicas of the Orion crew module spacecraft, which will be put on display and handed out as free giveaways during SME’s 2016 RAPID 3D printing event.

To take this project even further, Cincinnati Incorporated, makers of the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) machine, will be on-site at RAPID to 3D print a larger Orion replica in several large-scale pieces. Given that the BAAM is one of the largest 3D printers in the world, it should make for an exceptional demonstration of 3D printing in action.

The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is a spacecraft currently under development by NASA for launch on the Space Launch System. Its goal is to carry a crew of four astronauts into destinations at or beyond low Earth orbit, eventually facilitating the human exploration of asteroids and Mars, and taking mankind further into space than ever before. Currently, the Orion spacecraft consists of two modules: the Service Module, provided by the European Space Agency, and the crew module (CM), which was manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

Much like the Apollo command module, which was also recently 3D scanned with surprising results, the Orion crew module will serve as the main habitat for the four astronauts onboard. It will also provide storage for consumables and research instrument, and serve as a docking port for crew transfers.

Construction and design of the Orion crew module

Throughout the Orion spacecraft’s and Space Launch System’s development, 3D printing and advanced additive manufacturing have played an increasingly important role. Most notably, NASA recently signed a $1.6 billion contract for Aerojet Rocketdyne to 3D print rocket parts for the Orion spacecraft. The Space Agency has also been conducting tests on 3D printed F-1 rocket engine parts in preparation for the Space Launch System.

"Additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies are widely used to produce aerospace and other high-performance products," said Carl Dekker, president of Met-L-Flo. "It is exciting that we are using 3D scanning and additive manufacturing to reproduce 3D models of the Orion—a spacecraft which may carry these technologies to other planets."

 

 

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J.pickens wrote at 3/4/2016 11:18:54 PM:

This is a current design spacecraft. Wouldn't it be more accurate to use the CAD files to generate a 3D overall view? What is the point of scanning an already electronically designed object? Seems you would lose resolution and accuracy. Much different from the Apollo spacecraft, whose designs reside on blueprints.

J.pickens wrote at 3/4/2016 11:18:54 PM:

This is a current design spacecraft. Wouldn't it be more accurate to use the CAD files to generate a 3D overall view? What is the point of scanning an already electronically designed object? Seems you would lose resolution and accuracy. Much different from the Apollo spacecraft, whose designs reside on blueprints.



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