The European Space Agency (ESA) is to embrace the radical new technology of additive manufacturing (3D printing) having set-up a new UK-based ‘one-stop shop’ in partnership with the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC).
The MTC, based in Coventry and home to the UK National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, will manage the new ESA Additive Manufacturing Benchmarking Centre (AMBC), which will provide a simple and easy way for ESA projects and hi-tech companies to investigate the potential of additive manufacturing for their work.
The move will see the ESA call on the expertise of the MTC, which is at the forefront of additive manufacturing (AM) and offers access to the latest state-of-the-art AM capabilities, allowing prototype parts to be produced and then assessed in terms of their suitability for specific applications.
“The ESA’s Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality has called for the creation of a detailed roadmap for the harnessing of 3D printing to the space sector,” says Torben Henriksen, Head of ESA’s Mechanical Department.
Tommaso Ghidini, head of the ESA’s Materials and Processes Section, added: “Having identified this requirement, we have outsourced its operation to the MTC.
“We don’t want to compete with industry; instead the idea is that ESA projects and interested companies can investigate this new engineering world to the point where they will take a decision to proceed further.”
Dr Dave Brackett, technology manager for additive manufacturing at the MTC, believes ESA’s exploration of the use of AM will be incredibly beneficial for the technology.
“This is a brilliant opportunity to further the advancement of the technology in one of the most testing and dynamic application areas.