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Lockheed Martin reduces satellite production time with 3-D printing processes

Lockheed Martin set a new record for 3-D Printed space hardware by printing a giant satellite tank out of titanium. The 46-inch diameter tank consists of three parts welded together and completed the final rounds of quality testing this month.

"Our largest 3-D printed parts to date show we're committed to a future where we produce satellites twice as fast and at half the cost," said Lockheed's executive vice president, Rick Ambrose. They've cut the delivery time of satellite fuel tanks from two years to three months and are cutting the costs of manufacturing by 50 percent.

Forging titanium tanks 4ft in diameter and 4in thick can take a year or more, making them difficult to make. Traditional manufacturing techniques also meant that more than 80% of the materials went to waste during the production of these titanium tanks. 3-D printing eliminates the lost material and speeds up the rate of production so that new satellite tanks can be manufactured at any time with no wait.

These tanks have been made to meet or exceed NASA's requirements and has been tested multiple times to demonstrate high tolerances.

Sources: Lockheed Martin

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