Since 1990 the Trident D5 system for starting ballistic rockets out of submarines is available. But the rockets have to be taken out of service 2042 – because of this fact the MTI (Metal Technology) got a new research contract for the restauration of the rockets with the help of 3D printing.
The Trident D5 (also called Trident II or UGM-133) was first 1990 deployed by Lockheed martin. 2015 the rockets were overhauled and their lifetime was extended to 2014. Now the MTI got a contract from the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research – U.S. Navy) to research how 3D printers can be used for the restauration of rockets.
In the first phase of the project they want to demonstrate that it is less complex, faster and more cost effective to 3D print metals. Initially, they use Niobium alloy and Molybdenum and Tantalum. But there are high requirements for the quality of the printed parts. They should last temperature over 3.200 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of 550psi for at least 10 minutes.
It is possible that new ways to print metal will be developed with research that is done with this project. At least metal 3d printers are suited for the production of small series but it will show if metal printing is able to create parts with very high quality that meets all requirements for the use in a rocket.
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