Tag Archives: 3D printer

A 3D printer intended for installation on ISS in 2014 has successfully proven it can work in weightlessness.

A 3D printer intended for installation on ISS in 2014 has successfully proven it can work in weightlessness.

Three prototype versions of space manufacturing startup Made in Space’s 3D printer showed their stuff during four airplane flights that achieved brief periods of microgravity via parabolic maneuvers, company officials announced today (June 19).

Then there’s this:

“The 3D printer we’re developing for the ISS is all about enabling astronauts today to be less dependent on Earth,” Noah Paul-Gin, Made in Space’s microgravity experiment lead, said in a statement. “The version that will arrive on the ISS next year has the capability of building an estimated 30 percent of the spare parts on the station, as well as various objects such as specialty tools and experiment upgrades.” [emphasis mine]

If this claim is true, this printer will do a lot to make interplanetary space travel far more likely. It will mean that travelers far from home will be able to manufacture the spare parts they need, on demand, should something break. This will save a lot of weight, compared to carrying pre-made spare parts.

The 3D printer that can build a house

The 3D printer that can build a house.

The D-Shape is potentially capable of printing a two story building – complete with stairs, partition walls, columns, domes, and piping cavities – using only ordinary sand and an inorganic binder. The resulting material is said to be indistinguishable from marble, and exhibits the same physical properties, with durability highly superior to that of masonry and reinforced concrete.

The building process is very close to what we’d expect of a huge 3D printer. A nozzle moves along a pre-programmed path, extruding a liquid adhesive compound on a bed of sand with a solid catalyst mixed in. The binding agent reacts with the catalyst, and the solidifying process begins. Meanwhile, the remaining sand serves to support the structure. Then, another layer of sand is added and the whole process is repeated. Since it’s computer assisted, no specialist knowledge is required to use the printer. All that’s needed is a CAD design file.