A custom 3D printer made by Mountain View, CA-based company Made in Space is the first off-Earth manufacturing device scheduled for arrival at the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014. The 3D Printing in Zero-G Experiment will validate the capability of additive manufacturing in zero gravity.

Co-PI and Made in Space’s Director of R&D, Michael Snyder, examines the engineering unit 3D printer inside the Microgravity Science Glovebox. (NASA/MSFC/Deaton)
“Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made in Space. “Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3D printed when they needed them?”

The 3D printer is built specifically to handle the environmental challenges of space and uses extrusion additive manufacturing, which builds objects layer-by-layer out of polymers and other materials.

The Made in Space and NASA team envisions a future where space missions can be virtually self-sufficient and manufacture most of what they need in space. This includes such things as consumables, common tools, and replacements for lost or broken parts and eventually even such things as CubeSats (small, deployable satellites).

Visit www.madeinspace.us for more information.

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