The first 3D printer bound for space passed a series of critical microgravity tests at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Made in Space, the space manufacturing company, conducted examinations of their proprietary 3D printer technology during four microgravity flights lasting two hours each, simulating conditions found on the ISS.
The printer, as part of the 3D Print Experiment in coordination with NASA, is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014.
“Humanity’s future ultimately depends on our ability to explore and occupy space. The 3D printing technologies developed and tested during our Zero-G flights are a cornerstone to building that future. We reached a milestone in our goal to lay that cornerstone with the success of these prototype tests,” said Mike Snyder, P.I. on the 3D Print Experiment and Lead Design Engineer.
The unique challenges posed by off-Earth 3D printing require technology and hardware specifically adapted for space. In these microgravity tests, Made in Space assessed layer adhesion, resolution and part strength in the microgravity environment.
“The 3D printer we’re developing for the ISS is all about enabling astronauts today to be less dependent on Earth,” said Noah Paul-Gin, Microgravity Experiment Lead. “The version that will arrive on the ISS next year has the capability of building an estimated 30% of the spare parts on the station, as well as various objects such as specialty tools and experiment upgrades.”
source Made in Space