NASA Shuttle
Case Study

NASA's human-supporting rover has FDM parts.

January 26, 2022

Stratasys FDM printing helps NASA overcome the obstacle of extreme conditions on Mars.

FDM Part Ear shape

Failure is not an option.


“You always want it to be as light as possible, but you also want it to be strong enough that it’s got your safety factors, that nobody’s going to get hurt,” NASA test engineer Chris Chapman says. NASA’s mantra regarding human space travel is: Failure is not an option. The journey to space subjects a vehicle to intense stresses, starting with the launch from Earth. “You’re going at several thousand miles per hour just to escape the Earth’s atmosphere. So you’ve got to be able to handle all these vibrations just to get out into space, and the vehicle can’t be damaged,” Chapman says.


NASA engineers also 3D print prototypes to test form, fit and function of parts they’ll eventually build in other materials. This ensures machined parts are based on the best possible design by solving challenges before committing to expensive tooling. “Everyone’s got a budget to deal with, and we’re no different,” says Chapman.

Every day, NASA engineers and their devices bridge the gap between practical concerns such as budget and manufacturability, and the human drive to discover the secrets of unfamiliar worlds — in the workshop, in the desert, and eventually on another planet.

You always want it to be as light as possible, but you also want it to be strong enough.

NASA Rover

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