Jul 26, 2016 | By Tess

If you’re a space enthusiast who has been following NASA led maker challenges and have been dreaming about having your own 3D printed design made aboard the International Space Station you may now have another chance to. Electronics distributor Mouser Electronics has teamed up with engineer Grant Imahara, whom you might recognize from MythBusters and BattleBots, and retired Canadian astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, who served as commander for the International Space Station (I.S.S.) to launch a brand new ISS 3D design challenge.

Dedicated readers might remember that only months ago the I.S.S.’ on board 3D printer manufactured its very first tool in space, and subsequently created a student designed multitool, which was the product of a Future Engineer’s student design challenge. This latest challenge, however, is a bit broader in scope as it is geared towards college and university students, engineers, and makers and encourages participants to include electrical components in their 3D printable designs.

Col. Chris Hadfield

Glenn Smith, President and CEO of Mouser Electronics said, “Imagine how exciting it would be to see your design made in space. We are really excited to present this unique contest. We hope our wide range of electronic components will enable people to create whatever their imagination sparks.”

Mouser Electronics’ ISS Design Challenge has been sponsored and organized in partnership with Intel, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Made in Space, Hackster, and MacroFab. As mentioned, the challenge has also enlisted the help of celebrity engineer Grant Imahara and astronaut Chris Hadfield, who became famous for his enjoyable social media presence while in space (not to mention the creator of the first music video filmed in space!). Both Imahara and Hadfield will serve as guest judges for the contest’s entries.

Grant Imahara

If you think you have an idea for a 3D printed electronic tool that could benefit the astronauts aboard the I.S.S. and are interested in entering the maker challenge, there are a few things you should note. First, because of the size constraints of the I.S.S.’ 3D printer, designs must be contained within a build volume of 14x10x10cm with a resolution of 0.15mm and 75 micron layer height. In terms of materials, you should plan for your design to be created out of either ABS, HDPE, or PEI+PC polymers as they are the available materials aboard the I.S.S. For the part to be structurally sound, the challenge organizers suggest that designs have a minimum wall thickness of 1mm, and they must not necessitate any support structures.

For the electrical components, Mouser has listed a number of featured products including Intel quark microcontrollers, Amphenol industrial connectors, advanced sensors, and more. Importantly, in designing your tool you must bear in mind that its electrical components cannot require external power from the space station and must be powered by either alkaline or coin cell batteries. Access to wifi through the tool should also not be necessary. And, while this goes without saying, designs must be as safe as possible so as not to endanger the astronauts aboard the I.S.S.

Entries can be submitted through the design challenge website until October 7, 2016. After that date the panel of judges will determine a winner, who will not only have their design made in space, but will receive a 3D printer, and a consultation with Made in Space. Col. Hadfield expressed excitement for the project saying, “I’m honored to help judge the hard work of brilliant engineering minds.” The I.S.S. 3D design challenge is the latest series in Mouser’s Empowering Innovation Together program.

 

 

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