Jul 12, 2017 | By Benedict

Made In Space has begun using a PEI/PC 3D printing material on the International Space Station’s Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) 3D printer. The material, frequently used in aerospace applications, is strong and resistant to heat.

The AMF is one of the most celebrated 3D printers of our times. Not for its exceptionally high resolution or material capabilities, but because it happens to be orbiting the Earth aboard the largest manmade structure in low Earth orbit.

And things are just getting better for the rugged additive manufacturing machine. Made In Space, creator of the AMF, has just announced that the in-space 3D printer is now being used to print with PEI/PC, an aerospace-grade polymer. PEI/PC becomes the third AMF 3D printing material, following ABS and Green PE.

The newly introduced material is strong and heat-resistant, and is already commonly used in aerospace.

“Made In Space is proud to add PEI/PC to the suite of materials it is manufacturing in space with,” said Andrew Rush, President and CEO of Made In Space.

Over the last year or so, the AMF 3D printer has been busy 3D printing tools for astronauts, as well as more unusual items—a 3D printed visualization of the internet, for example. Practice makes perfect, of course, and Made In Space will now believe that it can create even more valuable items on its orbiting 3D printer.

“Our team has been regularly printing parts in space with AMF for over a year now,” Rush commented. “This unparalleled knowledge base of in-space manufacturing operations will enable us to deliver future in-space manufacturing solutions in the most cost-effective and efficient ways possible.”

PEI/PC has a tensile strength almost three times higher than that of ABS, and will therefore provide astronauts aboard the ISS with the potential to 3D print much stronger objects, potentially for very serious uses. Made In Space says it may even use the material for its in-development Archinaut system. The proposed Archinaut is a 3D printing system comprised of several robotic arms that could both print and assemble complex components in space.

“Manufacturing in PEI/PC really expands the value of in-space manufacturing for human spaceflight,” Rush added. “PEI/PC is a truly space-capable material. With it, extravehicular activity (EVA) tools and repairs, stronger and more capable intravehicular (IVA) tools, spares, and repairs, and even satellite structure can be created on site, on-demand. That enables safer, less mass-intensive missions and scientific experiments.”

The AMF 3D printer is “optimized to print in a wide variety of materials,” and offers astronauts a print volume of 140 x 100 x 100 mm. Its resolution is 0.1 - 0.44 mm, and it can print at a minimum layer height of 75 microns.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Materials

 

 

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