Originally Published: October 24th, 2014
Based upon several years of effort on part of Made in Space, Inc. the United States has officially entered the world (or ‘outer’ world) of 3D printing in space, on Sunday September 21, 2014 aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The system is designed specifically to work in outer space’s unique environment of zero-gravity, which can only be approached and/or approximated in earth-based operations. Thus, the dawn of new possibilities for the 3D technology has arrived even beyond the current expectations and even hopes heretofore.
The actual payload was delivered by the private sector’s innovative SpaceX. NASA’s collaboration with this company, along with Made in Space, indicates the growing commercial capabilities that the country is developing to meet current and future demand for both space operations and 3D manufacturing. Specifically, this first 3D printer system will utilize thermoplastic materials using fairly conventional fused deposition modeling, wherein molecular layers are built up to form the predefined target object.
The long-term NASA goal would be to have this further developed into a precise additive manufacturing capability that would allow system parts to be created in space. It has been estimated that more than 30 percent of the ISS spare parts could be manufactured using this approach. Accordingly, it can be envisioned that larger primary and structural components for spacecraft, living quarters and research could be produced and assembled in both near-earth and interplanetary exploration by 3D printers. All of this has the most immediate impact on reducing the resources needed manufacture and deliver components into space.
Reporting Links Below:
1) Below this site provides an overview of the NASA sponsored technology demonstration programs.
3D Printing In Zero-G Technology Demonstration (3D Printing In Zero-G) – 09.17.14
2) Below is news reporting from the website ExtremeTech reporting on the September 21rst rocket launch and payload.
SpaceX rocket carries the first ever zero-g 3D printer to the Space Station
3) Below is an alternative reporting from Forbes.com on the September 21rst rocket launch and payload.
First Zero-G 3D Printer Is On Its Way To The Space Station
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