Lockheed Looks to Speed Up Satellite Development with AM
Kyle Maxey posted on May 21, 2014 |
Lockheed Martin leans on AM to deliver products even in the face of declining defense budgets. ...
lockheed, 3d printing,

Aerospace and engineering giant Lockheed Martin is on the cusp of closing a deal with the US government to create two new missile-warning satellites.

While that news might only sound like cause for excitement for Lockheed’s investors and management, it’s also great news for the world of additive manufacturing as the company plans to use the technology to reduce manufacturing costs.

Although Lockheed used 3D printing to print metal parts for its Juno explorer and its A21000 commercial satellites, Lockheed’s new vision is to reduce military satellite development to a 5-year time frame and to make commercial satellites available in three. A critical part of that plan is 3D printing.

According to Lockheed, it takes 28 days to manufacture an aluminum bracket using traditional methods. By switching to additive manufacturing, they can produce 300 brackets in the same timespan.

Even though that increase in productivity is remarkable, Lockheed’s brain trust understand that for the technology to really excel they need access to durable, multi-material metal printing. While 3D printer manufacturers are have yet to overcome that hurdle, Lockheed is confident that a new era of manufacturing is on the horizon.

"In the next decade, we will completely change the way a satellite is designed and built. We will print a satellite," said Dennis Little, Lockheed VP of Production. "It's real. We're flying it on satellites now."

As reduced defense budgets force companies like Lockheed to find new ways to deliver products on the cheap, additive manufacturing might be the technology to deliver the results our evolving industries require.

Image and Video Courtesy of Lockheed Martin

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