3D Printer Aboard ISS Creates the First 3D-Printed Object in Space

Paving the way for future long-term space expeditions, the International Space Station's 3D printer has manufactured the first 3D-printed object in space. In this video, Niki Werkheiser, NASA's 3D Printing Project Manager, talks with Marshall Space Flight Center's Bill Hubscher about the first test run of the International Space Station's 3D Printer. On November 24, 2014, ground controllers sent the printer the command to make the first printed part - a faceplate of the extruder's casing. This demonstrated that the printer can make replacement parts for itself. The 3D printer uses a process formally known as additive manufacturing to heat a relatively low-temperature plastic filament and extrude it one layer at a time to build the part defined in the design file sent to the machine. Part adhesion on the tray was stronger than anticipated, which could mean layer bonding is different in microgravity, a question the team will investigate as future parts are printed.