Feb 1, 2017 | By Benedict

Majestic, a British internet mapping and search engine company, has 3D printed a sculpture that represents “the internet”—in space. Thanks to the Made In Space Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) 3D printer, Majestic becomes the first British company to commercially manufacture in space.

It seems like only yesterday, but last year we brought you the somewhat confusing news that British search engine guru Majestic was planning to 3D print the internet. Or, more precisely, a small plastic model, reminiscent of some rocky mountains, that depicts huge volumes of data on website backlinks, trust flow, and citation flow. As the company explained at the time: “Many links are worthless… these represent the top of the landscape. Others are strong, which are seen in the foothills.”

Although the 3D printing of the internet was an interesting project in its own right, Majestic always had bigger plans for its unusual model: namely, 3D printing it in space. On January 25 that plan was realized, as the Made In Space 3D printer aboard the International Space Station printed the data-representing mountain range, completing 18 months of hard work on behalf of Majestic and its various partners.

“Working with Majestic has been a great example of the commercial and International cooperation needed to develop the space industry and take humans to the next frontier,” said Matthew Napoli, VP of In-Space Operations for Made In Space, the company behind the AMF 3D printer. “What we have accomplished with this partnership would not have been possible even a year ago and truly showcases that new technologies have now made space accessible to anyone on earth.”

The Internet, which now sits (or floats) proudly aboard the International Space Station, is described as “a constellation of websites all linking to each other based on topics.” Majestic measures the quality and quantity of these connections using its Trust and Citation Flow metrics. Two quality scores for every website on the internet are plotted on a two-dimensional chart, with a third dimension added to help visualize the number of websites with any given influence.

Launched in March 2016, the AMF is the first permanent 3D printer to be used in space. It has a build volume of 140 x 100 x 100 mm, a resolution of 0.1 - 0.44 mm, and a minimum layer height of 75 microns, and can be used in zero-gravity conditions. It is designed to last as long as the International Space Station itself, and contains replaceable “subassemblies” that can be swapped out and replaced when Made In Space creates upgrades.

The AMF currently has two main tasks. First and foremost, it is a tool with which the astronauts on the space station can create small parts for various pieces of equipment. Teams on Earth can create useful, functional 3D printable models for the astronauts to use, beam them up to space, and have them printed right there on the space station. The second task for the AMF involves allowing third parties, including research groups, as well as companies like Majestic, to 3D print their creations in space.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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