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Zero-G 3D Printer Heads To The International Space Station

Posted on 23rd September 2014

3D printing is rapidly evolving and slowly becoming a dominant force in the world of manufacturing. An increasing number of companies are offering 3D printing services or, like us, utilise 3D printing as part of the design and prototyping of new products with their clients – some, however, are looking to take 3D printing one step further. NASA has revealed that since 2011 they have been helping to develop and fund the creation of a 3D printer that is able to be used in outer space.

What use does it have?

The idea for to make a printer that works in space is the brainchild of a small start-up company, Made In Space, founded in 2010. Due to the lack of gravity and ventilation on the International Space Station, a conventional 3D printer would be unable to work or be used safely – their printer is specifically made to remove these problems, opening up numerous possibilities. The completed printer, which arrived at the space station on 23rd September, is intended to be used solely by NASA for experimental purposes, with the intention of one day printing parts for the station on-demand.

How will it affect the future?

The printer itself is a great example of engineering for extreme or unusual conditions and hopefully will inspire similar unorthodox engineering in the future. In the long term, NASA hopes the printer will help scientists study the long-term effects of zero gravity on the additive manufacturing process. Made In Space is hoping with their second commercially usable printer, that companies will try and be experimental.

In an interview with Forbes, which can be found by clicking here, Brad Kohlenberg, a Business Development Engineer for Made in Space said the following:

“When you build something in microgravity and it’s intended to stay in microgravity, it’s possible to build entirely new types of structures that wouldn’t survive on Earth.”

Our 3D Services

While not as exciting as products made in space, at Coda Plastics we utilise 3D printing as a part of our rapid prototyping service. Throughout the design and creation of any product ideas you may have we will work with you to help develop these ideas and utilise 3D printing to create models of your concept, allowing them to be tested for their suitability in a quick timeframe. We use our knowledge and experience to enable visualisation of parts and components during the conceptual stages of engineering design through to early stage functional testing.

For more information on our rapid prototyping service, or any of the other services we provide, please contact us on +44(0) 1692 501020 or send an email to sales@coda-plastics.co.uk.

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