NASA will send a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) in August, utilizing the printer manufactured by Made In Space. The custom unit was completed and finished testing ahead of schedule, which is why it will head into space three months earlier than initially expected.
As part of the “3D Print” project, NASA tested the 3D printer to ensure it would be able to survive being transported into space – and for day-to-day use by astronauts stationed aboard the ISS. The new 3D printer will be installed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG), a custom dedicated space science facility.
Once installed, astronauts will print 21 different demonstration objects, including tools and ISS parts, with NASA and Made In Space monitoring progress.
Here is what Niki Werkheiser, NASA 3D Print Project Manager said in a press statement:
“NASA was able to provide key guidance on how to best comply with strenuous space certification, safety and operational requirements and Made In Space excelled at incorporating that insight into the design. As a result, the hardware passed testing with flying colors. Made In Space now has first-hand experience of the full ‘A-to-Z’ process for designing, building, and testing hardware for spaceflight.”
If everything goes according to plan, Made In Space hopes to add an Additive Manufacturing Facility in space, so 3D-printed objects can be made in larger quantities. There is great potential to be able to custom print necessary items layer-by-layer, using plastic, metals, and other materials in space.
Image courtesy of Made in Space