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How MakerBots will help us understand the universe
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MakerBot in Space
It seems since the mainstream press took an interest in 3D printing, stories about its intrinsic ability to create complex objects on-demand and how that will send us into space have become almost ubiquitous.
While there is a lot of fluff out there with regards to 3D printing and space exploration there are some fascinating projects across the globe, using additive manufacturing technologies to aid space exploration.
While most of the projects are using industrial machines to create metal parts there’s one pretty hefty project using desktop 3D printers as an essential part of the design process.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the planned replacement for the Hubble Space Telescope and has been in development since 1996. The pictures the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to capture will be far greater than anything we’ve ever seen and will broaden our knowledge of the universe exponentially.
After the project came under scrutiny by US Congress for overspending in 2011 the budget was capped. To stick to the strict budget Lockheed Martin, the project’s industrial partner, are using MakerBot Replicator 2s to create prototype parts faster and cheaper at their Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California.
The MakerBot machines allow the aerospace company to quickly go from conceptual design to CAD model to 3D printed prototype. The prototype allows the design team to understand how said part will interact in the real world meaning they are able to optimise the components very early on in the design process.
Mechanical Engineer, John Camp founded the 3D printing initiative at Lockheed Martin and has been inundated with requests from engineers to help print parts for all manner of projects. The one project that has benefitted greatly from the rapid prototyping capabilities has been the James Webb project.
In this case study video the engineers on the project explain in great detail how the 3D printers are helping this massively important project. See they’re not just for Yoda Busts and twirly vases!