3D printing could help the asteroid-mining industry get off the ground.

Billionaire-backed asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources is teaming up with 3D Systems, whose 3D printing technology will help craft components for the Arkyd line of prospecting spacecraft.
The collaboration should help Planetary Resources build certain parts of its Arkyd 100, 200 and 300 probes more cheaply and efficiently, officials said.

“We are excited to work very closely with Planetary Resources’ engineering team to use advanced 3D printing and manufacturing technologies to increase functionality while decreasing the cost of their Arkyd spacecraft,” 3D Systems CEO Avi Reichental said in a statement.

“In success, we will create the smartphone of spacecraft and transform what has been an old-style, labor-intensive process into something very scalable and affordable that will democratize access to space, the data collected from space and off-Earth resources for scientists and the public,” Reichental added.

Planetary Resources co-founder Peter Diamandis said that the use of 3D printing in the production of the Arkyd spacecraft series could help the company achieve its lofty goals.

“We are absolutely thrilled to partner with 3D Systems, the world’s pioneer and leader in 3D printing and advanced manufacturing, as we pursue our vision to expand the resource base beyond Earth,” Diamandis said in a statement. “3D Systems has a long history of inventing, advancing and democratizing manufacturing – and our vision of mass producing the Arkyd 100, 200 and 300 line will greatly benefit from their thinking and technology.”

Planetary Resources officials hope to launch a series of robotic spacecraft into Earth orbit and, eventually, to near-Earth asteroids in order to mine them for resources such as precious metals and water.

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Source: space.com

 

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