Spaceflight Insider

SME and 3D Technology Companies scan Orion model

Orion model at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex photo credit Michael John McCabe

Photo Credit: Michael John McCabe

On March 1, 2016, a model of NASA’s new crew-rated spacecraft, Orion, had some rather special images taken of it this past week. The vehicle was scanned; the images from which will be used to produce replicas of the new vehicle. The model that was used is located at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.

Faro Scanner with Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Orion model image credit FARO posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Photo Credit: FARO

SME, along with Lockheed Martin, FARO Technologies, Inc., Direct Dimensions Inc., the Florida Institute of Technology and Cincinnati Inc., partnered to carry out this scan. As is the case with many efforts in the “Space Renaissance” – new technologies are being brought to service to accomplish various needs.

“Additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies are widely used to produce aerospace and other high-performance products,” said Carl Dekker, president of Met-L-Flo. “It is exciting that we are using 3D scanning and additive manufacturing to reproduce 3D models of the Orion—a spacecraft which may carry these technologies to other planets.”

FARO conducted the 3D laser scan, while Direct Dimensions being responsible for the file (which will then be prepared and 3D printed by Met-L-Flo).

“We have really enjoyed partnering with SME on this exciting project. Being among the first people to even see the pressure capsule and being able to host the first-ever 3D scan of the spacecraft is an important part in NASA’s journey to Mars,” said Alyse Cohen, Education Events & Competitions, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Some 150 replicas of Orion will be produced which will then be displayed or given away at the Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s upcoming 3-D printing technology event, RAPID, scheduled for May 16-19 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Meanwhile, Cincinnati Inc. will use the Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) technology to print a replica of Orion in several large pieces, which will then be assembled onsite at RAPID 2016.



Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Reader Comments

I hope they have already scanned in every single part used in Orion’s construction. That way they can print out replacement parts for anything that breaks en-route to Mars, the moon, or an asteroid. Yes, I realize it is a lot more complicated than a Star Trek synthesizer, but why not be ahead of the game?

Learn more about Cincinnati Inc. and BAAM 3D printing at

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