International Conference on Environmental Systems (ICES)
The Extravehicular Activity (EVA) spacesuit is a complex machine that provides astronauts with a flexible enclosure and life support system allowing them to perform EVAs in space or on planetary surfaces. As humans continue to explore the Solar System, the ability for space fairing organizations to become Earth-autonomous is a necessity, and the need for an Earth-independent spacesuit is unavoidable. With the evolution of additive manufacturing technologies, it may be possible to produce 3D-printed soft goods that can replace the labor-intensive bladders and restraint layers currently in pressure suits. The Human Spaceflight Laboratory (HSFL) at the University of North Dakota has demonstrated the ability to use additive manufacturing to develop various soft spacesuit components. By utilizing flexible filaments in combination with interwoven mesh fabrics for improved durability, the HSFL has been able to produce various soft goods components, a functional elbow mobility joint and a boot/ankle assembly. The components have been successfully tested at nominal spacesuit pressures along with burst tests at higher pressures. Through development and testing of these early prototypes, the HSFL has proved that additive manufacturing can be utilized to fabricate spacesuit elements. The HSFL plans to build upon the advancements discussed in this paper and continue to employ additive manufacturing techniques with the end goal of developing a fully functional 3D-printed pressure garment based on our existing NDX-1 planetary suit architecture.
Pablo De Leon, Stefan Tomovic, and Will Green. "New Methods of Manufacturing Space Suits for Deep Space Exploration" (2021). Space Studies Faculty Publications. 7.