Rocket maker for NASA and the Air Force to begin 3D printing parts


United Launch Alliance (ULA), who makes rockets for NASA and the Air Force, is planning to 3D print 100 parts for the next-gen model of its Vulcan rocket, which is expected to launch in 2019.  Rockets cost about $165 million for ULA, and 3D printers are expected to save as much as $1 million per year in manufacturing costs.  Creating these parts in house with 3D printing allows ULA to maintain internal quality control without having to deal with other companies.  ULA has previously used 3D printing to make molds and guides, but has not used it to make parts before.  Additionally, the company expects to use 3D printing for “rapid prototyping of parts.”  This allows engineers to test a part for functionality before having to go through production or deal with a supplier.

Would you expect 3D printing to be adopted in something like rocket manufacturing?

What other manufacturers do you think could benefit from 3D printing parts?

2 Responses to Rocket maker for NASA and the Air Force to begin 3D printing parts

  • Initially, not really because of the safety involved in creating a rocket. Then when you begin to think about the savings incorporated with using 3D printers. Saving $1 million a year is a lot, especially when dealing with a project that will take several years like this example. Another manufacturer that may benefit from 3D printing their parts would be any company in the automobile industry. Just like rocket production, there are many parts involved in the creation of an automobile. Having 3D printers develop thee parts may save time and money.

  • This is an interesting article because it is hard to believe that 3D printing has advanced to the point where it can manufacture these types of crucial parts. In reality, any company that manufactures any sort of good could benefit from this, whether it is car parts, airplane parts, firearms, any electronics, and even something as simple as manufacturing clothing. This will greatly benefit any manufacturing company by decreasing production costs and increasing quality control.

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