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European Space Agency aims to perfect 3D printing of metal parts within five years

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ESA Amaze project
ESA Amaze project

Like NASA, the European Space Agency is actively pursuing 3D-printed metal components for use in spacecraft, planes, and even nuclear fusion applications. The ESA has unveiled printed parts made from metal that it says can withstand temperatures of up to 3500 degrees Celsius, far beyond the limits of plastic, the traditional 3D printing ingredient. This makes the resulting parts "fit for space and the most demanding applications on Earth," according to the ESA. It's working with the European Union, as well as with industrial and educational partners to develop "the first large-scale production methods to 3D print with metal." The end goal? Perfecting the printing of metal components within five years.

Fittingly, the initiative is called the AMAZE project (Additive Manufacturing Aiming Towards Zero Waste & Efficient Production of High-Tech Metal Products). As the name implies, goals are to cut back on waste and reduce production costs. 3D printing also affords engineers the ability to build parts that would be impossible to cast through traditional means. The ESA says the program kicked off in earnest back in January, and it's now working to set up factories in France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the UK to establish a dependable industrial supply chain. NASA has made its own advancements in harnessing 3D printing for rocket production, and like the ESA, its printed components have stood up to abuse.