3D-Printing Tech Goes Out-of-this-World With NASA’s Zero-Gravity 3D-Printer

3D-printing is now truly an out-of-this-world technology with the recent successful installation of NASA’s zero-gravity 3d-printer which was sent into space in September.

The dream of a self-sufficient space-faring civilization moved a step closer to reality this week as a commercial 3D printer was installed aboard the International Space Station for a tryout in orbit, SpaceFlight Now reported. “This is a very exciting day for me and the rest of the team. We had to conquer many technical challenges to get the 3D printer to this stage,” said Mike Snyder, Made in Space’s director of research and development, in an update posted to the company’s website. Read more here:

“NASA and Made in Space have flown parabolic flights and tested this, but you only get short spurts of microgravity,” Werkheiser, who’s based at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said on NASA TV Monday morning. “Space station is actually the only platform where we’re able to test this technology before we use it on further-out exploration missions.”  See more here:

The main task for the current experiment will be printing a series of engineering test coupons that will be returned to Earth for analysis and comparison to control samples manufacture on the same printer before it was launched to the ISS.  “This experiment has been an advantageous first stepping stone to the future ability to manufacture a large portion of materials and equipment in space that has been traditionally launched from Earth’s surface, which will completely change our methods of exploration,” said Snyder, the Made in Space engineer. Read more:

The science community is indeed agog at how far the technology has gone in a relatively short period of time. While some see the limitation of 3d printing technology as used in space saying that “we will still need the raw materials unless (and until) we can also find a way to recycle those from the worn out plastic and metal parts that we need to replace,” others are optimistic in their views.  In a few years, it will be common practice to reduce, reuse and rebuild new parts as needed without requiring new materials- only power.

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