Jan.14, 2013

You've heard NASA engineers use 3D printing to build a next-generation rover to support humans exploring other worlds, such as asteroids and, eventually, Mars. Last year Curiosity landed successfully on Mars tooling around on the red planet taking snapshots and doing analysis.

(Image credit: NASA)

NASA used Stratasys and its Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) process to build parts such as flame-retardant vents and housings, camera mounts, large pod doors and many custom fixtures.

Besides big parts from Stratesys FDM machines, NASA finds also room for small 3D printer, for example Makerbot's low cost 3D printers.

Michael Wolf of NextMarket Insights interviewed with Makerbot CEO, Bre Pettis and he indicated that engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are using Makerbot to create model parts.

(Image credit: Forbes)

"JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) used to send models out. They had one model they used to send out for the heat shield on Curiosity and it cost them five thousand bucks. When they had to make another one, they just went out and bought a Makerbot and gave it to one of the engineers, and they just went crazy". says Pettis, ""Now they're our biggest customer."

NASA has already begun to create new parts using 3D printing and they are investigating the possibilities of creating parts on the go with these small 3D printers. Send up some 3D printers for the station, Astronauts would only need plastic or metal materials to make new tools or spare parts on the fly.

You can listen to the interview with Bre Pettis of Makerbot here or the embed audio below.



Source: Forbes




Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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