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The EBF3 Business Case

We wrote a few weeks ago about NASA's new EBF3 manufacturing process (Electron Beam FreeForm Fabrication), which uses a high-energy electron beam to melt raw metal (typically aluminum) and deposit it on a vacuum-encased rotating platform. Shiny round metal objects soon emerge.

Now we learn a bit more about the benefits of EBF3, which originally was intended for use on the International Space Station, where the intention is to print parts as you need them instead of rocketing up tons of spare parts at great expense that might never be required.

The real business case turns out to be in the aircraft industry. According to Science Daily a typical aircraft part might require milling of a 6,000 lb. chunk of titanium to reveal a 300 lb. part. With EBF3 you need only print 350 lbs. of raw part and trim off 50 lbs for finishing. That's a big saving in not only the titanium but also in the work effort, electrical power and cutting fluid.

It's not rapid prototyping; it's rapid manufacturing. How's that for a space spin-off?

Via Science Daily (Hat tip to Micah)
Image credit: NASA

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