Manufacturing of Experimental Layer Technology (MELT) project’s goal was to design, develop and test a fully functional 3D printer, able to work under the ISS’s (International Space Station) microgravity conditions and 3D print with engineering polymers with high end mechanical and thermal properties.

The impact of this innovation in space exploration

Is the ability to manufacture necessary structures, spares, in situ and on demand reducing the cost, volume, and up-mass constraints that could forbid launching everything needed for long-duration or long-distance missions from Earth.

3D Printing Advantages in Space
  • Allows on-demand parts manufacturing
  • Reduces waste generation during manufacturing
  • Offers capability to optimize geometries
  • Creates designs tailored to the environmental constraints
High-Performance 3D filaments

Engineering polymers with high end mechanical and thermal properties such as PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) and others. These 3D printed parts in high performance polymers with lower density than metal can replace metal parts in many applications inside the Station.

Value of High-Performance Polymers in Space Exploration
  • Properties: High mechanical properties allow them to be used as replacements for metal in many applications like secondary structures.
  • Modifiable: Their functionality can be modified by doping them with specific properties particles (e.g., conductive, antimicrobial).
  • Density: Lower density, compared to metal – the added value per unit of mass is higher.
  • Resistance: Resistance to radiation: can be used in the open-space environment over a long period of time.
  • Recyclable: Can be recycled or downcycled.
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