The Daily 3D Detail: 3D printing in space now on grand scale

Posted by Editor On August - 12 - 2017

3D printing in space now on grand scale

The Made in Space team working on Archinaut

Made in Space, the NASA approved company responsible for printing tools aboard the International Space Station, has been able to prove printing in space is possible on a grand scale by 3D printing a beam structure 30 meters in length in a vacuum chamber under zero gravity.

The unprecedented achievement means NASA and other space programs can begin planning large-scale production in the unforgiving circumstances of the space environment. In fact, it is proving to be a simpler task than 3D printing under the conditions of the environment and gravity on Earth.

When printing in zero gravity, for instance, support structures are not needed to prevent the collapse of overhangs beyond the usual 45 degree angle commonly accounted for in normal 3D printing operations. Also, the vacuum conditions of space are ideal for the 3D printing of some metals, which would otherwise be an expensive operation.

The experiments were conducted by using a thermal vacuum chamber (TVAC) at NASA Ames Research Center’s Engineering Evaluation Laboratory (EEL). To accomplish the task, Made in Space created an Extended Structure Additive Manufacturing Machine (ESAMM) to simulate the conditions of space.

According to Andrew Rush, Made in Space President & CEO, “These successful demonstrations mean that on-demand, adaptable manufacturing of complex structures in space has been significantly derisked.”

More tests are ensuing as Made in Space develops their large scale in-space assembly module called Archinaut. For more information regarding this story, see the article published by 3DPrintingIndustry.com.

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