Jun 12, 2014

Made In Space's 3D printer, specially designed for use in microgravity on the International Space Station (ISS), has passed final NASA certifications and testing and is ready to launch to the International Space Station in August 2014.

Due to the project meeting all milestones with minimal risk, the 3D Printer has been moved up to a launch on SpaceX CRS-4 in August 2014 instead of the originally slated SpaceX CRS-5.

The 3D printer was subjected to a series of tests at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) with the goal of verifying that the hardware met NASA safety and operational requirements for ISS use. These tests included Electromagnetic Interference (EMI), vibration, materials compliance, human factors, electrical, and ISS interface checks. NASA has certified that the hardware meets all necessary operational standards.

The first series of items intended to be 3D printed on the ISS were also tested and will serve as ground controls. The printer will create objects layer by layer using extrusion-based additive manufacturing techniques.

Once installed in the Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) on the ISS, the printer is scheduled to print an initial set of 21 demonstration parts, including a series of test coupons, parts and tools, that will provide meaningful immediate data via downlinked high-definition video, but will also be returned to earth for detailed ground analyses.

This first set of prints will serve to verify the printer and extrusion process in microgravity. The next phase will serve to demonstrate utilization of meaningful parts such as crew tools, payload ancillary hardware, and potential commercial applications such as cubesat components.

The Made In Space 3D printer will use thermoplastics to create parts and tools as a test demonstration.

Once the demonstration is completed, Made In Space plans to follow with a permanent Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) on ISS which will incorporate the lessons learned from the technology demonstration and provide further capabilities such as additional material options and larger build volume.

"Years of research and development have taught us that there were many problems to solve to make Additive Manufacturing work reliably in microgravity. Now, having found viable solutions, we can welcome a great change — the ability to manufacture on-demand in space is going to be a paradigm shift for the way development, research, and exploration happen in space," said Michael Snyder, Lead Engineer and Director of R&D for Made In Space.

The ability to create necessary items on-demand will reduce the need to launch all parts and redundancies from Earth, saving time, money and payload space aboard rockets. The presence of a 3D printer onboard will also allow astronauts a tool to create solutions to unforeseen situations.

The AMF 3D printer will be fully available for use by researchers, businesses and individuals on Earth. Made In Space invites the public to contribute their ideas about what should be printed in space – interested parties can visit www.madeinspace.us to contribute to the conversation.

Posted in 3D Printers


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Jason wrote at 6/13/2014 8:02:37 PM:

This is awesome. No support material!

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