Providing Robust Manufacturing Capabilities In Space
The Vulcan Advanced Hybrid Manufacturing (VULCAN) System combines several manufacturing technologies into one seamless system to produce precision metallic, polymer and hybrid parts. Utilizing additive and subtractive manufacturing, VULCAN provides a unique capability to advance manufacturing in the microgravity environment and pave the way for advanced, all-purpose manufacturing systems. VULCAN is able to produce high-strength, high-precision polymer and metallic components on-orbit with comparable quality to commercially-available, terrestrial machined and inspected parts.
Due to the ability to exchange different extruders and machining tools on demand, VULCAN can be upgraded over time by adding and adapting different tool sets or extruders to meet additional customer requirements. Manufacturing in multiple types of materials also allows optimization for strategic use of remaining feedstock currently on orbit when recycling and/or resupply is unavailable. Such capability enables the in-situ manufacturing of critical parts for human and robotic spaceflight and without dependence on terrestrial resupply.
Using various extruder heads with both metal and polymer filaments, VULCAN can manufacture, refine and perform quality checks with aerospace grade metals, high grade polymers and hybrid components in a streamlined, automated process. The gantry system provides the infrastructure for interchangeable thermoplastic extruder heads and metal deposition heads mounted alongside a traditional machining spindle.
VULCAN is a revolutionary technology capable of multi-material manufacturing of net shape parts. By combining polymer extrusion, metal welding, CNC machining, quality tools, and FOD (Foreign Object Debris) capture, VULCAN enables on-demand, in situ autonomous manufacturing in a range of reduced gravity environments. With both additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities, VULCAN can create parts customized for their use case and tools that are optimized for strength or flexibility based on the blend of multiple types of materials.
This decreases the need for cargo missions with spare and replacement parts, allows for infrastructure flexibility, and reduces crew time spent on fabrication efforts. Given its multi-material manufacturing capability, VULCAN generates parts capable of use in a variety of efforts such as power supplies, habitat structures, and life support systems. These attributes are valuable for any NASA lunar or Martian exploration initiative. VULCAN is platform agnostic and is also offered as a standalone unit, but is most beneficial when combined with other Made In Space OSAM (On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing) efforts such as part of the Archinaut platform for those interested in either combining metals and polymers through additive manufacturing or those concerned about extensive post processing infrastructure.