Press Release

Stratasys: Rapid Manufacturing On Earth Today: in Space Tomorrow?

By SpaceRef Editor
September 10, 2001
Filed under , ,

A Stratasys
customer brought the future one step closer with a
recent rapid manufacturing application. When a belt-sander-pulley
failure halted production in the customer’s finishing area, the
company rapid manufactured a replacement unit from polycarbonate on a
Stratasys FDM Titan(TM) prototyping system. Instead of waiting days
for an aluminum replacement part, the company designed and built its
own replacement in under four hours.

“I had a model of the pulley drawn up in CAD (computer aided
design) in less than an hour, ” says Kirk Moswen, the manufacturer’s
fabrication manager. “Then we built the part from polycarbonate on the
Titan rapid prototyping system; It took only 2 or 3 hours to build it.
Although we have many sanders throughout the shop, most of them are
continuously used. I didn’t have to make the decision to pull a sander
away from a less-critical production line. I was able to keep right on
going. It’s been a month now and the belt sander is still going

This application is probably the first in which a rapid
manufacturing process produced an actual replacement part on-the-spot
for working production equipment. The event occurred at one of the
several customer beta-test sites commissioned by Stratasys to help
fine-tune the Titan before its release. The beta site chose to remain
unnamed. A brief case study describing the application is available at
the home page of To view it, click on the “rapid
manufacturing” link beneath the FDM Titan image.


While a humble pulley helps usher in an era of rapid manufacturing
on earth, NASA engineers hope to use rapid manufacturing on a grander
scale — on the International Space Station or in space travel.
Astronauts can’t carry every spare part they might need, so the space
administration may eventually use rapid prototyping systems to
manufacturer parts in space. NASA has experimented with Stratasys
rapid prototyping systems with good results.

A white paper describing the results is now available on the
Stratasys Web site. During the experiments last year, NASA engineers
placed a Stratasys FDM (fused deposition modeling) system onboard a
special aircraft, the KC-135, which produces reduced gravity
conditions. Engineers successfully fabricated various test parts at
that time, and they plan to fly the system on a space shuttle flight
for further experimentation. The white paper was originally published
by NASA Tech Briefs and is available on the Stratasys home page at

Stratasys, Inc., Minneapolis, is a leader in rapid prototyping
systems. The Company’s patented fused deposition modeling (FDM®)
process creates solid models directly from 3D CAD files using
polycarbonate, ABS plastic, wax, or other materials. Stratasys
provides rapid prototyping systems for OEMs such as aerospace,
automotive, consumer, and medical product makers. According to the
2000 Wohlers report on the state of the rapid prototyping industry,
Stratasys has installed more rapid prototyping systems, over the last
5 years combined, than any other manufacturer.

FDM Titan is a trademark of Stratasys, Inc. Stratasys is a
registered trademark of Stratasys, Inc.

Attention Editors: If you wish to publish reader-contact
information, please use: Toni Brown,, ph:
952.937.3000, toll-free: 1.888.480.3548,


Stratasys, Inc., Minneapolis

Joe Hiemenz, 952/937-3000

952/937-0070 fx

SpaceRef staff editor.