The space exploration agency contracted Made In Space to build the printer for the International Space Station.
NASA has partnered with space manufacturing company Made In Space to develop a 3D printer built specifically for microgravity.
The 3D printer is built to withstand the environment in space and uses extrusion additive manufacturing to build items layer by layer using polymers and other materials.
3D technology is already becoming very popular on earth and it has already been proven useful in several areas, including the design and medical fields. The potential uses of 3D technology in space colonization and flight is certainly not lost on the space exploration agency and the many companies focused on space research.
The customized 3D printer by Made In Space will be the first machine to manufacture objects and parts in space. Currently, all space equipment, tools and parts are made on earth and sent to the space station. Re-stocking or re-supplying space missions can be costly and can take time since everything will have to come from earth.
A 3D printer in space can potentially change the way things work. It can pave the way for space missions that are self-sufficient and able to manufacture most of what they need on site. In the future, 3D printers can help build satellites and housing in space.
Made In Space and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center are preparing to launch the 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014. Made In Space has already conducted tests and experiments involving 3D printing technologies and zero-gravity and will be conducting more tests this year.
NASA and Made In Space see the experiment in the ISS to be the first step to in-space manufacturing.