Is this the future of manufacturing in space?

Jon Lawson

With the 2024 Artemis project in mind, NASA and COSM Advanced Manufacturing Systems are entering the final development stage of an electron beam 3D printer designed to deposit metal from a spool of wire into a large, complex part. The hope is that this technology will be able to make parts on-demand and if necessary autonomously in space.

The work is based on years of experiments in semi-conductor manufacturing, and follows on from the partner’s Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication (EBF3) program. Karen Taminger, senior materials research engineer and technical lead for metal additive manufacturing research at NASA Langley said, “We are excited by the prospect of adding COSM’s high precision electron beam capabilities into the EBF3 process to enhance in-space welding and additive manufacturing for future exploration missions.  COSM’s experience enables integrated visualisation and sensing in real-time to control and inspect work being performed in remote areas.”