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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Additive Manufactured Coronagraph Bench for Detection of Exoplanets

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

We propose to use additive manufacturing (AM) to build a Coronagraph Bench engineering test unit.  The versatility inherent in the 3D-printing process allows for a one-piece construction that promotes dimensional stability in dynamic thermal environments.  This manufacturing technique, when used together with low expansion alloys, helps achieve the desired stability requirements.

This early-stage Innovation will be the first instrument built exclusively using AM.  It will build on lessons learned from previous GSFC efforts to pioneer AM to print compact optomechanical components for higher stability, easier alignment and modularity of optical subsystems.  This new manufacturing paradigm will enable new opportunities using the flexibility AM affords for building dimensionally stable light-weight structures that in the past required complex and costly machining operations.  In addition, the rapid prototyping capability for proof-of-concept builds provides significant cost savings for design modifications, as for adapting this compact bench for different space platforms.

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