precision CERAMICS MANUFACTURING
Commercial ceramics for terrestrial use
The Ceramics Manufacturing Module (CMM) is a commercial manufacturing facility that produces ceramic parts in microgravity for terrestrial use.
CMM demonstrates the viability of manufacturing with pre-ceramic resins in an additive stereolithography (SLA) environment, which is a new manufacturing technique for the International Space Station ecosystem.
The in-space manufacturing device aims to demonstrate the feasibility of manufacturing single-piece ceramic turbine components in microgravity, a process that could lead to turbine parts with higher strength and lower residual stress due to the absence of gravity-induced defects such as sedimentation and composition gradients.
The project focuses on advanced materials engineering that ultimately leads to reductions in part mass, residual stress, and fatigue. Manufacturing in microgravity could enable the development of temperature resistant, reinforced ceramic parts with improved performance.
Successful production of single-piece turbine blisks (blade + disk) in microgravity may provide additional gains in aircraft engine part performance and durability, which could convey significant advantages to the aviation industry. Ceramics produced in microgravity will open opportunities for complex-shaped, temperature resistant, and environment resistant ceramic structures that address defects common to terrestrially printed parts such as porosity and non-uniform shrinkage.
By harnessing microgravity to economically manufacture new and innovative products to be sold on Earth, demand can be scaled for on-orbit manufacturing capabilities and services. This would in turn translate to the growth of new markets in the LEO economy and increase demand from terrestrial customers.