It is not rocket science, but understanding and implementing how 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, can be used to make parts for satellites and other space systems is a discipline that is not yet fully understood.
"Additive is a new journey for us. It requires new skills, it requires a brand new education," said Dennis Little, a vice president of production at Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
"In the days gone by in aerospace, most of our engineers — me included — were left-brained," said Little. "We think in right angles and straight lines."
With additive manufacturing, Little said, you have to think differently, adding curves to those straight lines and right angles. The engineers, he said, have to use both the left, or analytical side of the brain, and the right, or creative side.
"What sparks an interest in me is when a design engineer says the most perfect designs are those created by nature," he said. "Because that tells me that the person understands that the future designs need to replicate more of what nature already has."