Lockheed Martin is an aerospace and defense company that is also the Pentagon’s biggest supplier of weapons and satellites. Last year, the company earned over $45 billion USD with about 75 percent of that money coming from the United States government. Obviously, this government contract is crucial to the company’s success so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would dowhatever it takes to keep it – even if it means coming up with new ways to cut costs.
According to Reuters, the U.S. has been winding down military spending and is bringing in new competitors to build their weapons. In turn, Lockheed Martin has been scrambling to figure out a solution to not only keep their contract, but to make their production process cheaper. The answer to their problem is 3D printing, which they will now use to lower the huge costs of building national security satellites while safeguarding their profits in the process.
The cost to build a large-scale military satellite costs upwards of $1 billion USD. Unlike weapons (which can also be 3D-printed), satellites cannot be produced in large volumes. By using additive manufacturing, Lockheed Martin will not only bring down the cost of manufacturing the satellite, but it will also make it lighter; thus allowing the military to add more components to it or use smaller rockets to launch it.
Lockheed Martin has recently secured a deal with the Air Force and will build for them two Space-Based Infared System missile-warning satellites. Engineers are currently evaluating which satellite components can be printed instead of using outside suppliers, which account for 60 percent of Lockheed Martin’s manufacturing process. If successful, this new manufacturing process will change the way satellites are made in the future and there could be a time when we’re able to print one.
“We’re trying to find new ways of doing things. We’re leaving no stone unturned. In the next decade, we will completely change the way a satellite is designed and built. We will print a satellite. We’re flying it on satellites now.”
–Mark Valerio, Vice President and General Manager of Military Space for Lockheed Martin
Since its inception, many industries have been using 3D printing technology to facilitate their production process. But only recently has the technology become so affordable that the average consumer can also use it in the comfort of their own home. As more large corporations like Lockheed Martin start using 3D printers to create complicated objects, it’s only a matter of time before hobbyists follow their example and start saving money for themselves.
3D printing is still in its infancy but there are already many things you can create on your own without buying them. If you’re like Lockheed Martin and want to save money, maybe a 3D printer is what you need. Take a look around your home right now and imagine how much money you would save if you printed certain things. The amount of items will surprise you. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll even print your house.