The lure of 3D printing technology in space is appealing, and the European Space Agency (ESA) is now studying implementing 3D-printed technology.
The use of 3D printing could help reduce waste, so the ESA Clean Space initiative wants to see how effective it would be on the International Space Station (ISS). Although the current generation of 3D printing is still in its infancy, research to create needed parts on the ISS does have great potential.
Furthermore, a new ESA project will investigate different manufacturing techniques using laser and electron beam melting, while also looking at sandblasting, etching, nickel coating and painting as surface treatments. Of specific note, the ESA wants to see if aluminum, titanium and stainless steel on satellites can be repaired by parts printed in space.
In the future, scientists hope to be able to make items that are currently impossible to create easily in space. Space is a low-volume area where product design and storage considerations are analyzed – being able to 3D manufacture some technologies to avoid ferrying them to the ISS would be helpful.
Meanwhile, NASA is testing a Made in Space 3D printer that will eventually find its way to the ISS, after undergoing strict federal testing.
Thank you to the ESA for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of ESA