How Plastics Machining Plays a Role in Research and Development at NASA

Mar 20, 2017 | Aerospace, Machining,

How Plastics Machining Plays a Role in Research and Development at NASA

Simply put, without plastics machining the world that we know and enjoy today would not exist – at least not in the ways we’ve grown accustomed to. What you may not realize is that factors like G10-FR4 machining are so important that without them, how we interact with the universe itself would be vastly different, too. NASA is just one example of an organization that relies heavily on plastics machining on a daily basis, particularly in terms of research and development.

NASA Uses Plastics Machining to Keep Costs Down

NASA engineers test the Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication (EBF3) system during a parabolic flight in 2006.

To say that research and development at NASA is expensive is something of an understatement. NASA’s topline budget in 2015, for example, was about $18.01 billion and a significant portion of that went to the development of new tools, technologies and processes that would keep people (and equally expensive equipment) safe in the harshest environments imaginable.

In an effort to both improve efficiency and decrease waste, NASA regularly turns to innovative plastics machining solutions to not only get the parts they need for testing faster, but to improve end-unit quality across the board at the same time. If NASA needs a particular type of composite material for testing, they are no longer forced to make a huge quantity of it and essentially waste what they don’t end up needing. They can only make what they need for a particular test, making changes along the way as needed.

Planning For the Unexpected

Another interesting way that NASA uses plastics machining has to do with how they prepare for unexpected dangers that may occur on space missions. In years past, NASA astronauts would need to carry huge numbers of spare parts with them on journeys as nobody can predict what might go wrong while you’re in space. Now, however, engineers at NASA have used plastics machining to develop options like the Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication unit that allows astronauts to create parts as-needed themselves, even if they’re in the middle of a space flight mission.

These are just a few of the many examples of how NASA relies on plastics machining and other technologies to great effect every day. At JMJ Profile, Inc. we’re proud of the ways that we’ve contributed to our space program over the years – in 2009, we engineered a unique method to machine a complicated composite material that NASA needed to complete a research project in a time sensitive manner.

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