NASA recently expressed interest in working with the UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC). The organizations have announced they will form a collaboration to enable NASA to explore the use of MTC’s additive manufacturing technology for future space exploration missions. The MTC has been home to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) additive manufacturing benchmarking center since its launch in 2017.
So far, NASA has sent scientists from five of its centers (including the Kennedy Space Center) to visit the MTC in Coventry. Drawn by the MTC’s AM equipment and expertise, the space agency is interested in exploring and leveraging MTC’s technology for the additive manufacturing of complex, high-stress components for aerospace applications.
NASA is reportedly also interested in working with MTC on certification and standards—an area it excels in for advanced manufacturing processes. In fact, the MTC is one of the founding partners in ASTM International’s Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence, along with EWI, the Auburn University and NASA.
Though no partnership has been formalized between NASA and MTC, the groups have also hinted that they are speaking about collaborating on other projects centered on robotic processing, high temperature alloys and technical ceramics.
“NASA came to us through our collaboration within the ASTM Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence and our existing links to the space sector, particularly ESA,” explained David Wimpenny, MTC’s chief technologist. “There are many areas in which we could work together, including additive manufacture, the certification of AM printed parts and other manufactured parts, inspection technology for thin-walled lightweight parts and extreme high temperature testing.”
Rick Russell, a NASA technologist, echoed the enthusiasm, saying: “The NASA additive technologies team is excited about developing future collaborative opportunities. Our team was extremely impressed with the capabilities and staff at the MTC. Working with the ESA we anticipate utilizing the MTC and the National Centre for Additive Manufacturing as part of our future collaborative efforts.”
Based in Coventry, the MTC runs a number of operations and works with a wide range of partners to discover technical solutions and applications for advanced manufacturing technologies. The National Centre for Additive Manufacturing based out of MTC is specifically aimed at accelerating the adoption of AM across industries.