Lowe's to send commercial 3D printer to International Space Station

It doesn't get more Star Trek than this: a device to create the spare parts you need, when you need them, two hundred miles above the surface of the Earth. That's the aim of Lowe's Innovation Labs and Made In Space‘s project to send a 3D printer to the International Space Station this year, creating the station's first on-site manufacturing facility.

With it, astronauts will be able to make parts and tools on demand to replace those lost or broken. This saves the cost of launching new ones into orbit, which can cost more than $10,000 per kilogram. The printer can create delicate structures than can only exist in zero gravity, and allow solutions to problems that haven't even been predicted yet. In the past, that often meant improvising repairs using things like duct tape, paper, or even toothbrushes.

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