OHB & ESA sign a deal for development of 3D prototype

MELT 3D printer. (Source: ESA–G. Porter, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

OHB System AG, a subsidiary of space and technology group OHB SE, has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for the development of a 3D printer prototype suitable for large part production using high strength and functional thermoplastics and designed to meet the requirements for accommodation on the International Space Station (ISS). OHB is leading a consortium with three other European entities; the German space company Sonaca Space GmbH, BEEVERYCREATIVE, 3D printing company from Portugal and Athlone Institute of Technology in the Republic of Ireland. The project is called IMPERIAL.

The goal of the awarded activity, called IMPERIAL, is the design, development and testing of a fully functioning printer model meeting the requirements for additive layer manufacturing on-board ISS, using engineering thermoplastics and alleviating build volume constraints. In order to demonstrate the functionality of the printer, several functional parts need to be selected, printed and tested. The printed parts shall demonstrate the capability of in-space manufacturing to enable new maintenance and life support strategies for human space flight.