Engineering students to help develop materials for space station

Monday, August 20, 2018

Mechanical engineering students at SDState will help develop 3D printing materials that may one day be used at the International Space Station through a one-year, $25,000 NASA grant, according to assistant professor Todd Letcher.

South Dakota State University was one of 10 university teams selected to work on technologies to support NASA’s deep space exploration capabilities. This is part of the eXploration Systems and Habitation Academic Innovation Challenge, also known as X-Hab. Other participating universities include the University of Michigan, University of Maryland and The Ohio State University.

Letcher has been working with additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, since 2014 when he bought his first printer through support from the university’s Scholarly Excellence Fund. His lab in Crothers Engineering Hall now has nearly a dozen specially modified 3D printers. He’s been integrating the design and testing of intricately designed parts, such as heat exchangers, using 3D printing in sophomore- and junior-level engineering design classes, as well as for senior design projects and graduate student research projects.

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