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3D-printed component flies in Trident missile tests

By Richard Tomkins
3D-printed component flies in Trident missile tests
3D-printed connector backshell (R) which was used in a Trident II D5 fleet ballistic missile test, next to a cable assembly. Image courtesy Lockheed Martin

SUNNYVALE, Calif., March 21 (UPI) -- Three unarmed Trident intercontinental ballistic missiles test launched by the U.S. Navy recently flew with their first 3D-printed component.

Lockheed Marin said the component was a connector backshell, which was designed and fabricated in entirely digital processes in half the time of traditional methods.

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The process involves Lockheed Martin's Digital Tapestry, a set of advanced manufacturing tools.

The connector backshell protects cable connectors in the missile and is made from an aluminum alloy. It measures about an inch across.

Although it was the first time a 3D-printed component flew on Trident, part of the U.S. strategic nuclear deterrent, additively manufactured parts have been used by Lockheed Martin on planetary probes, satellites and spacecraft for human use.

In the latest tests of the Trident D5 missiles, the weapons launched from a submerged submarine contained special Lockheed Martin range safety devices and flight telemetry instrumentation.

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