Supporting NASA's Human Exploration Destination Systems Technology Area and LaRC, this project's technologies directly address requirements for reducing launch mass by reclaiming launched structural components into AM printing feedstock and providing polymeric technology for utilizing in-situ resources as composite AM raw materials. This project's technologies offer the ability to manufacture components and structures on-site as needed using structural composites that are no longer needed and yielding effective binder matrixes for large volumes of environmental sourced particulate materials. This reduces overall launch cost, and provides deep space exploration the ability to fabricate components as needed.
Government systems would derive benefits from this technology, including rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing of complex, low-run number, and advanced design parts for systems operated by the Department of Defense. Prime defense contractors could find use of an enabling technology allowing 3-D printing of new and exotic polymeric materials or polymeric composites previously thought incompatible to additive manufacturing processes. Human systems focused solutions would have the ability to additively manufacture custom components for personnel equipment, such as softer elastomeric materials for integral user-custom equipment. This technology's attributes for improving the compatibility of polymers to AM systems would yield a high potential for private sector commercialization for AM and 3D printer manufactures, significantly increasing the materials properties available in the feedstock. Such companies could dramatically expand the thermoplastic raw materials available to consumers, create new product lines based on thermosetting material designs, and potentially be able to produce materials with custom thermal-mechanical performance on-demand. The technology would enable businesses to additively manufacture components and systems previously impossible due to material limitations.