Apr. 16, 2015 | By Simon

It’s been less than two weeks since NASA received their first shipment of parts that were 3D printed aboard the International Space Station over the past few months on the Zero-G 3D printer provided by Made in Space.  The printer, which was designed to withstand zero gravity and pressures associated with a rocket launch, has been responsible for churning out everything from spare parts to functional tools aboard the ISS.  To ensure that the quality of the parts are suitable for future use, NASA printed the exact same parts on Earth in order to test the two sets of parts against each other for any differences that could affect the future of manufacturing in space.  

Now, Made in Space has revealed that the exact same “space-grade” filament that was used by NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore - who also installed the history-making 3D printer in the Space Station’s Microgravity Science Glovebox in November of 2014 - will be made available to the public for anybody who wants to experiment with printing with the same material that was used by NASA aboard the ISS.  

"We selected our material after testing dozens of different vendors and have determined it to be some of the highest quality available," said Matthew Napoli, whose position at Made in Space is to ensure quality control for space manufacturing.

During its time in space, the Zero-G 3D printer from Made in Space printed a total of 14 unique test objects.  13 of those objects were preloaded onto its memory prior to launching however one of those objects - the famous socket wrench - was emailed form the Made in Space HQ in California up to the ISS where it was subsequently printed and proved that not only are astronauts capable of manufacturing in space, but they are also capable of receiving custom parts and tools on-demand, thus eliminating the need to carry excessive equipment that may be sacrificing valuable storage space.   

The “space-grade” quality ABS plastic filament that is now available for sale includes four main product lines that are being introduced for pre-order starting April 16th, 2015.  The product categories vary depending on their readiness for use in space.  The first offerings include standard multi-colored spools that feature Made In Space branding to the actual “AstroABS” that was used in NASA’s 3D Printing in Zero-Gravity Technology Demonstration.  

The company is planning on marketing each of the new offerings to multiple types of makers ranging from those less serious to those who want to focus on zero gravity manufacturing and reduce the potential for differences between their test prints on Earth and those in space.  Additionally, they are hoping that the AstroABS filament will not only appeal to makers and 3D printing enthusiasts but also museums and space memorabilia collectors.  The company plans to use the profits to further develop their technology to make manufacturing in space a ‘more realized’ reality.  

AstroABS Canister

While Made In Space is planning on selling the filaments directly through their own website, they will also be selling it through select filament retailers including Octave Systems, 3D Supply World, Filament Direct and Printer Playground with others expected to be announced in the near future.  

"This terrestrial store is a logical extension of the Made In Space explorer spirit," said Bard Kohlenberg, Made In Space’s business development engineer.

"We've consistently said our technology will open up new markets for space development and with this announcement, we're doing just that."

Whether or not you plan on developing tools for a zero gravity environment or just simply want to own a piece of history, it’s hard to deny that the AstroABS from Made In Space is among one of the coolest filament offerings we’ve ever seen.  You can pick up a spool starting at just $29.95 over at Made In Space.  



Posted in 3D Printing Materials


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