The aerospace manufacturer's space taxis will use more than 600 parts churned out by 3D printers. As Fred Katayama reports, the parts cut costs and save weight.
These aren't your ordinary parts made of plastic. They're being churned out by a 3D printer, and more than 800 different parts produced by this small company will land in Boeing's Starliner spacecraft. The aerospace manufacturer is betting that Oxford Performance Materials' printed plastics can perform flawlessly under the extreme stress of a rocket launch and sub-zero temperatures. Elijah Willis directs materials and processes at Oxford. SOUNDBITE: ELIJAH WILLIS, DIRECTOR OF MATERIALS AND PROCESSES, OXFORD PERFORMANCE MATERIALS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "3D printing is a manufacturing process, more commonly known as additive manufacturing, taking advantage of building a part layer by layer as opposed to subtractive manufacturing which is cutting away the part out of a billet or hog of a material, either metal or plastic, whichever you are starting with." Oxford's components will help Boeing cut costs and save weight on each capsule. Bernie Plishtin heads business development at Oxford: SOUNDBITE: BERNIE PLISHTIN, CHIEF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER, OXFORD PERFORMANCE MATERIALS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Weight savings is incredibly important when you are putting things up in space. And we've been able to reduce hundreds of pounds on the crew capsule by Boeing's measurements, approximately 60 percent weight reduction on the parts that we produced." 3D printing has progressed beyond prototypes into industrial production of high-grade parts used in space ships and aircraft engines, among other things. Sales have taken off, and Wohlers Report expects them to quintuple by 2021.