Solid State Metal 3D Printing for Space

P. Bahn, M. Norfolk
Fabrisonic LLC,
United States

Keywords: metals, low temperature, ultrasonic additive manufacturing, 3d printing


Ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM) has emerged as a promising technology for printing metals in the challenging environment of space. This innovative approach utilizes ultrasonic vibrations to bond metal foils layer by layer, offering significant advantages such as low energy consumption, minimal waste generation, and precise control over the printing process. In the absence of traditional fusion-based techniques reliant on gravity and atmosphere, UAM provides a viable solution for producing complex metal components directly in space, addressing the logistical constraints associated with transporting pre-fabricated parts from Earth. Moreover, its capability to work with a variety of metals, including aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel, positions UAM as a versatile manufacturing method conducive to diverse space exploration missions and long-duration stays in extraterrestrial habitats. This presentation will cover recent work to mature UAM for in space manufacturing including: - Miniaturization of ultrasonic components to reduce working force and instantaneous power draw under NASA PH II - Development of repair techniques for patching holes in aluminum pressure vessels due to debris damage - Integration of UAM welding heads in vacuum chamber to prove out viability of ultrasonic welding in vacuum - Printing of metal matrix composites to create high modulus structure