"We're taking additive manufacturing technology to new heights"
And I'll bet he said it with a straight face.
NASA has commissioned a custom 3D printer capable of working in microgravity that will be sent to the International Space Station to build parts for the facility and the scientific experiments it contains. Testing zero G printing in space Zero G flights are good for testing, bad for hair The printer has been designed by …
From what I've seen in videos, powders tend to clump together in micro-gravity due to electrostatic forces between the individual grains.
That's actually a pretty smart application. I don't know how robust the material they're working with is, but at least in theory being able to create small tools and replacement parts on demand in space sounds very useful indeed. It could not only create anything needed unexpectedly (instead of having to wait weeks for it to be sent up) but also reduce the amount and variety of spares they need to keep on hand.
Of course they wouldn't want to rely on it for anything critical. (The printer itself could break, after all.) But just for example, there must be dozens of little clips and connectors they use to keep things form drifting around the station.
What would by really neat is if it could melt down and recycle the parts it makes, but I suppose that's unlikely.
Zero g rheology.
What could possibly go wrong?
Thumbs up for this. While it man not seem like it this work, along with the asteroid re-direct mission, could be the start of a whole different (and much more affordable) approach to doing space projects and (maybe) even getting to Mars.
"First step to making a Mars rocket in orbit?"
What do you think the "Asteroid capture" mission is for?
Why spend $5Bn to haul 500 tonnes of spaceship into LEO when you can spend $2Bn and nudge a 500 tonne rock into orbit.
Nothing gives radiation shielding like a couple of metres of solid rock.
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