Nov.18, 2014

The the world's first zero-gravity 3D printer was launched in September aboard SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo capsule. On November 17, NASA announced that it has successfully installed the world's first zero-gravity 3D printer on the International Space Station (ISS) to help astronauts to experiment with additive manufacturing in microgravity.

NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore installed the space 3D printer, designed and built by Made In Space, inside the orbiting labs's Microgravity Science Glovebox (MSG) on the ISS on Monday morning. Wilmore worked throughout Monday to install and calibrate the 3D printer to get the International Space Station and future crews ready for self-sufficiency. With the aid of the Made In Space and NASA ground support teams, Wilmore was able to power on and complete critical system checks to ensure that the hardware and software was in operating condition.

Commander Barry WIlmore works on Monday to install a 3D printer inside the Destiny laboratory's Microgravity Science Glovebox. Credit: NASA TV

"This is a very exciting day for me and the rest of the team. We had to conquer many technical challenges to get the 3D printer to this stage," said Mike Snyder, lead engineer of California-based startup Made in Space, in a statement.

The goal of the 3D Printing in Zero-G technology demonstration is an experiment to explore the use of additive manufacturing technology as a reliable platform for sustained in-space manufacturing.

The first phase of printing will include, among other things, a series of engineering test coupons which will be returned to Earth for analysis and compared to control samples which were made with the same 3D printer while it was at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, prior to launch.

"This experiment has been an advantageous first stepping stone to the future ability to manufacture a large portion of materials and equipment in space that has been traditionally launched from Earth surface, which will completely change our methods of exploration," said Mr. Snyder.

"The real objective of the first phrase of this technology demonstration is just to verify that the process works in microgravity same way it works on Earth," said NASA's Nikki Werkheiser, 3D Print project manager.

"NASA and Made in Space have flown parabolic flights and tested this, but you only get short spurts of microgravity. [..] Space station is actually the only platform where we're able to test this technology before we use it on further-out exploration missions." Werkheiser explains.

The science collected from this printer will directly feed into the commercial printer flying up in 2015, which will enable a fast and cost-effective way for people to get hardware to space.

Posted in 3D Printers


Maybe you also like:


TobyCwood wrote at 11/20/2014 1:37:23 AM:

If our taxes are paying for this project it should be OPEN SOURCE!!! Instead MadeInSpace is not allowing anyone to see what the printer actually is nor do we expect they will share their data on the printed results. As such WE SHOULD NOT BE FUNDING IT!!!

ThatGuy wrote at 11/19/2014 3:51:37 AM:

But you have to REALLY worry about bed adhesion.....

Expert wrote at 11/18/2014 2:30:33 PM:

Are they printing in nylon or pc?

Xeno wrote at 11/18/2014 1:09:42 PM:

No worries about overhangs then :)

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive