Astronauts install 3D printer on International Space Station


#1

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#2

minor point, It weighs more to send raw material in to space and assembling it there than it is to send preconstructed items. The only reason to move manufacturing off world is if there were raw materials in space to begin with, so until there’s off world mining this is mostly pointless.


#3

“PC LOAD LETTER? Noooooo!”


#4

But when will they get the one that’s supposed to be able to make pizza?


#5

Not necessarily.

You could need 30 self sealing stem bolts to conduct repairs, but you only have a stockpile of 10 because you never anticipated you’d need so many. With the ability to manufacture what you need, you can make up the difference with your raw materials. In fact, it may even save space since you wouldn’t have to maintain a complete inventory of all the replacement parts you could possibly require, and you could make only that which you needed under the circumstances.


#6

“part of a technology demonstration intended to show that on-site, on-demand manufacturing is a viable alternative to launching items from Earth.”

Its a proof of concept. If you think a proof of concept is pointless, congratulations! You are middle management material.


#7

If you know what you need, and when you’ll need it, then you’re correct – it makes more sense to manufacture it on Earth and send it space-ward. The advantage of manufacturing in space is for those other situations, those times when you need something un-expectantly and can’t wait a month for the resupply ship.


#8

Up there if you wait for the raw or soon to be recycled material it’ll come to you and oh god catch it before it pierces the oxygen line oh fuck we’re all screwed.


#9

I can’t wait to see all the failed prints floating around or getting used as paper weights on the ISS. At least that’s what my office looks like.


#10

“Weights”?


#11

Masses!


#12

I’m curious about the details of the zero-gravity extruder - I mean, on Earth the filament is using gravity to fall on the previous layer and has to sit there a bit to stick.

I guess in space the filament has to be extruded under pressure and has to go slow enough to hold it in place for a bit before moving on? I’d love to see a close up of the extruder and a film of it in action.


#13

Also,

  1. Most kinds of 3D printers have very high material utilization rates, so not a very large issue
  2. Some can be used for repair as well as manufacturing new parts
  3. Parts made in space wouldn’t need to survive launch, and they don’t need to be shaped to fit in a particular form factor. Today parts used only in zero gravity need to be designed to withstand high g forces anyway. They need to fold up to fit in a capsule. That means they are often heavier and less reliable than they’d otherwise need to be
  4. There are raw materials in space. Some missions are to other celestial objects - planets and comets and asteroids. And since rocks don’t care about time, and in principle the fuel cost of moving a small asteroid is very low,this is a solvable problem. In addition to what Made In Space is doing, NASA and Deep Space Industries have projects trying to learn how to autonomously mine asteroids and do metallurgy in space.

#14

not that different from the garbage pickup on the ISS now.


#15

It would be truly impressive if it used recycled human waste as its feedstock.


#16

Now we need one that works on producing solid items from regolith and we can start a lunar colony.


#17

I know, it’s not food. But…

Earl Grey, hot.

We now live in the future.


#18

This is awesome:

  The part about components only needing to be designed to withstand zero G throughout their lifetime instead of the 10G accelerations they can face when being brought up means that lighter components with less mass (and which use less material) can be fabbed up in space, which reduced the cost of spaceflight because less material goes further.  (ex: an antennae array for earth may be built to withstand 3G, and an antennae array for a space satellite might have to be built to withstand 10G because of launch, but an antennae array printed in space might only need to withstand 0.5 G).  It also means that stuff could get recycled if someone brings up a grinder.

  I would love to see if this sort of tech can be used for building large 0G solar farming satellites using combined tech like nanosolar's flat flexible rolls of solar panels and the Darpa microbots running on flexible circuit panels for doing 3D assembly of 3D printed structures out in space such as large array solar collection satellites.

If the technology of wireless power transmission could be implemented to collect power from space and beam it to earth in the form of microwaves by using an antennae called a Directed Energy Atmospheric Transfer Horn, this means that we could build 
   power
   beaming

Directed
Energy
Atmospheric
Transfer
Horn
satellites for the good of humanity.


#19

Aren’t they using largely outdated computer hardware on the ISS due to the need for radiation hardening? Does that mean they had to rewrite custom control software for whatever customized architecture (and operating system?) they’re using?


#20

A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

(this is a little obscure, I know)