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ORNL Researchers 3D-Print Lunar Rover Wheel to Showcase Technology Capabilities

Additive manufacturing

ORNL Researchers 3D-Print Lunar Rover Wheel to Showcase Technology Capabilities

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers worked with NASA to demonstrate how additive manufacturing can support space technology production.

The researchers 3D-printed a wheel based on the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, which NASA plans to send to the moon in 2024 to look for resources in the lunar south pole. The wheel, made using a nickel-based alloy, will not be installed on the VIPER rover.

Additional tests are planned to validate the design and fabrication method before additive manufacturing is considered for future lunar or Martian missions, large structural components production and other space-based applications, ORNL said.

The laboratory’s achievement is one of several recent 3D printing and additive manufacturing demonstrations done by the U.S. government to showcase the technology’s capabilities.

In July, the Consortium for Additive Manufacturing and Education showcased how the Advanced Manufacturing Operation System 3D printer could manufacture parts in flight. In May, the U.S. Navy partnered with Australia’s SPEE3D to determine if the company’s cold spray additive manufacturing technology can produce submarine parts quickly while maintaining the service’s standards.

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Tags: 3D printing additive manufacturing federal civilian NASA Oak Ridge National Laboratory Volatiles Investigation Polar Exploration Rover