This August you’ll see a real 3D printer operating in outer space. The folks at Made In Space announced their space-capable 3D printer will fly on the SpaceX Dragon CRS-4 flight this summer.
The company has been working towards this goal for several years, gradually designing an extrusion-based 3D printer that meets NASA performance and safety flight specifications. They’ve had to overcome a long list of challenges, including: operation in microgravity; thermal safety; vibration avoidance; nano particle vapor capture; and more. Now, they say they’ve met “all milestones with minimal risk.”
Like any machine or human sent to orbit, specific work has been scheduled. The printer will produce a set of 21 test objects, followed by a variety of other items in order to see how well the printer operates on the International Space Station. Test objects will be brought down to earth to be examined by (presumably) NASA’s 3D printing scientists. We’re anxious to see how this plays out.
Meanwhile, we’re also wondering about Made In Space the company. You gotta figure they don’t really have a very large market, there being only one space station at this time. The project is certainly interesting, but how will this benefit you?
We suspect there could be spinoffs. The technology invented by Made In Space may translate into useful features for ground-based 3D printers. For example, how’d you like to have a 3D printer that doesn’t vibrate at all? Is less noisy? Emits no fumes?
Those are benefits that all 3D printers should have.
Via Made In Space