Arconic Helps NASA Orion Reach for the Stars…and Mars

October 13, 2017

3D printing is rocketing from the lab to the skies on the Orion spacecraft, with the help of Arconic. Watch an Orion component take shape from metal powder to complete part as it is 3D printed at our Austin, Texas facility, which manufactures precision built parts for space and commercial aircraft. 

Working in partnership with our customer Lockheed Martin, Arconic technologists produce the Orion vent housings with 3D printing technology that uses a laser to fuse layer upon layer of powder metal to build a finished component. The vent housings are our first 3D printed metal products built for human spaceflight and are critical components that balance the pressure between the inner and outer hull of the spacecraft. Our parts flew on Orion’s inaugural spaceflight test in December 2014 and will soon be bound for the far side of the moon on Exploration Mission-1, Orion’s next spaceflight test atop NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket.

We can print these parts in about 40 hours versus several weeks for the traditional manufacturing method. The vent housings originally were fabricated from several individual components. The 3D printed versions are manufactured in one piece for increased strength and faster production. 

Arconic innovation has helped shape the aerospace industry since the days of the Wright brothers. Today, we continue to transform the industry through advanced technologies, such as 3D printing, which have the power to change the world.

Meet some of our technologists and engineers who are proud to partner with Lockheed Martin and NASA to take humans beyond the moon.