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PADT, ASU receive $127K NASA grant for biomimicry 3D printing research

NASA has awarded a STTR Phase I grant to PADT and Arizona State University for 3D printing strong, lightweight structures

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Ever the proponent for additive manufacturing technologies, NASA has awarded a $127,000 grant to Phoenix Analysis and Design Technologies (PADT) and Arizona State University (ASU) to advance 3D printing research. The funding, a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I grant, will specifically go towards biomimicry research for 3D printing objects inspired by naturally strong and lightweight structures, such as honeycomb or bamboo.

The research being undertaken by engineering product and services company PADT and ASU is being explored primarily for applications in aerospace, where strong, lightweight parts offer beneficial properties to air and space crafts.

“We’re honored to continue advanced research on biomimicry with our good friends and partners at ASU,” commented Rey Chu, principal and co-founder of PADT. “With our combined expertise in 3D printing and computer modeling, we feel that our research will provide a breakthrough in the way that we design objects for NASA, and our broad range of product manufacturing clients.”


PADT, which offers solutions in numerical simulation, product development and 3D printing to its clients, has already worked alongside NASA to develop parts for its Orion Mission. The project, which consisted of the development of over 100 3D printed parts for the manned-spaceflight to Mars, was in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and 3D printing company Stratasys.

With the recent $127,000 grant, PADT and ASU will team up to develop bio-inspired 3D printed structures which NASA could implement for use in heat exchangers, lightweight structures, highly resistant skins and more. The Phase I grant also has the potential to be succeeded by a larger grant from NASA if the first research phase is successful.

“New technologies in imaging and manufacturing, including 3D printing, are opening possibilities for mimicking biological structures in a way that has been unprecedented in human history,” said Dhruv Bhate, associate professor at ASU. “Our ability to build resilient structures while significantly reducing the weight will benefit product designers and manufacturers who leverage the technology.”

Going forward, it will be interesting to see the ongoing developments and ultimate results of the 3D printing research between PADT and ASU and supported by NASA.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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