After nearly two years of R&D, and testing several different commercial 3D printers in zero gravity, NASA has partnered with Made in Space to develop a 3D printer for use on the Moon, Mars, and elsewhere in the solar system. It will be certified and launched next year for initial deployment on the International Space Station. (Source: Made in Space)
According to the Made in Space press release, they tested various 3D printers back in 2011. Perhaps they were done on the ISS or maybe even on NASA's 'Vomit Comet' plane. Still it's interesting to see where this will lead!
Good point, elizabeth. But it think it depends on what branch of government. If building on the moon was a matter of national security, there would be a budget for it. The original space program was an elaborate national security effort to keep up with and eventually surpass, the Soviet Union. That's why it was well funded. When the space program was no longer viewed as a national security efflort, the funding dried up.
You're right, Rob, the technology is there...I just don't think the budget is! I used to write about the government space and to my recollection, they had a lot of budget cuts and financial worries there. So perhaps that's why this is all stalled even though the technology is there. With 3D printing and other technologies making things easier and cheaper, perhaps it will get a kick start.
Like you, Elizabeth, I don't have high hopes for the bill, but I like it that the idea is getting discussed. I also like the idea that the tools for creating a habitat on the moon are getting developed.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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