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NASA Builds 3D Printer for Space

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Rob Spiegel
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Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   7/3/2013 11:43:36 AM
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This is pretty interesting stuff, Ann. I especially like the idea of building roads and structures on the moon using lunar material. Wow. As for the 3D printer, I wonder how they simulate zero graviety.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Interesting R&D
Ann R. Thryft   7/3/2013 12:28:07 PM
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I agree, Rob. I think building stuff on Mars or the Moon with local materials makes a lot of sense. Similar 3D printed building technologies are being developed on earth. I covered them here in Future Cities:
http://www.ubmfuturecities.com/author.asp?section_id=262&doc_id=523906
and Cabe has also written about some in DN. There's also a link at the end of this current article to one I wrote on making stuff with simulated moon rocks. Regarding the simulation of zero gravity, Made in Space did this with "microgravity," via the sub-orbital flight testing we mention in the article.



Debera Harward
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Re: Interesting R&D
Debera Harward   7/4/2013 4:59:50 PM
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Yes Rob , I am too excited to listen that 3D printers will be created for space , roads and things will be created their this is too fascinating . It will help reduce the transportation time secondly this will also help to creat the whole spacecraft on space only isnt  it exciting ...

Debera Harward
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Re: Interesting R&D
Debera Harward   7/4/2013 5:09:43 PM
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According to me there is no doubt vast usage  of 3D printers in Space , The ability to 3D print tools greatly increases the reliability while dropping down the cost of transportation. Initially only testing items will be created later on actual tools and other parts will be  created . These printers can be used  for laboratories over there small satellites for deployment can be built , tools needed for human missions and so on.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Interesting R&D
Ann R. Thryft   7/9/2013 1:32:51 PM
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Deberah, the main reasons for printing stuff in space are transport time, as you pointed out, but also and even more important is the huge cost of fuel, as well as the use of complex expensive guidance systems, for the spacecraft that deliver those items.

TJ McDermott
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Re: Interesting R&D
TJ McDermott   7/4/2013 6:04:07 PM
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Rob, Ann's previous article stated the use of "zero-gravity flights made by NASA's Flight Opportunities Program" for 0-g testing.

They used the vomit comet.

 

taimoortariq
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Re: Interesting R&D
taimoortariq   7/7/2013 6:50:00 AM
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Its great to see NASA taking all the Innovative steps to make their space programs more efficient. At first, I was intrigued as to what 3d printing will do in space? But it seems that it is nothing less then a necesssity. Saving fuel costs and transportation delays will greatly benefit the space programs.

Especially, the selective laser melting(SLS) if produced by NASA, will be of great use to cater for any maintenance problems in the launching system of space, as any broken or worn out parts would be produced in the space effectively. Looking forward to it.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Interesting R&D
Elizabeth M   7/9/2013 4:24:23 AM
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Wow, this is really incredible. It's amazing to think that instead of having to send astronauts on missions to deliver machine parts to the ISS, now they will be able to fabricate them on board through 3D printing. What a breakthrough and it will certainly save NASA a lot of money. The moon habitat project is also fascinating. 3D printing truly has the potential to be one of the most disruptive technologies in use today.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   7/11/2013 8:26:28 PM
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I like the notion that 3D printers and robots can effectively build a village on the moon before the arrival of humans.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Interesting R&D
Elizabeth M   7/15/2013 5:25:42 AM
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I didn't think about it this way, Rob, but that would be true, wouldn't it! Sounds so very futuristic and the stuff of scifi, but yet here it is on our doorstep in our lifetime. Pretty incredible.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   7/19/2013 5:46:39 PM
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It's starting to happen, Elizabeth. A couple of representatives have introduced a House bill to create a national park on the moon: H.R. 2617.

 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Interesting R&D
Elizabeth M   7/22/2013 3:31:02 AM
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A national park on the moon? Wow! Although given the pace of bills sometimes, it may take awhile for that to happen. But still, the possibility is incredible.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   7/22/2013 4:24:40 PM
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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.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Interesting R&D
Elizabeth M   7/23/2013 5:17:32 AM
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Exactly, Rob, so by the time legislation catches up, the technology will be ready for this type of futuristic project to happen. I hope it's in my lifetime! Would love to see that...or even go there.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   7/23/2013 8:29:25 AM
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The amazing thing, Elizabeth, is that it is no longer futuristic. The technology is ready now. Maybe moves like this could help break the stalled human-based space program.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Interesting R&D
Elizabeth M   7/24/2013 9:04:08 AM
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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.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   7/25/2013 8:24:16 PM
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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.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Interesting R&D
Cabe Atwell   7/31/2013 7:08:26 PM
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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!

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Interesting R&D
Rob Spiegel   8/2/2013 7:38:34 PM
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Yes, it's very interesting. I like the idea that we're etting to the point w here we could build roads and structures on the moon using moondust.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Interesting R&D
Ann R. Thryft   7/16/2013 12:17:22 PM
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Well, Rob, that's the idea behind some of the 3D printing methods NASA is investigating. We'll see if that becomes a reality. meanwhile, tools and replacement parts for astronauts is closer to becoming a reality.

Mydesign
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3D printing at space station
Mydesign   7/4/2013 5:46:05 AM
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"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 space.'

Ann, what's the need for this 3D printer at space station. Anyway they are sending the signals to remote stations at earth, where they can print such images.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing at space station
Ann R. Thryft   7/9/2013 1:30:26 PM
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Mydesign, the point is to print stuff astronauts need while in space instead of the huge expense of shipping such items--tools, replacement parts, etc.--out to them. The cost of transport alone is one reason why humans haven't gotten to Mars yet.



Mydesign
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Re: 3D printing at space station
Mydesign   7/10/2013 12:03:24 AM
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"the point is to print stuff astronauts need while in space instead of the huge expense of shipping such items--tools, replacement parts, etc.--out to them. The cost of transport alone is one reason why humans haven't gotten to Mars yet."

Ann, thanks for the clarification. That a new info for me, so far I though all such information's are processed in ground station.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing at space station
Ann R. Thryft   7/10/2013 12:27:45 PM
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Mydesign, can you clarify your statement and question? I notice your earlier comment mentions printing images, not objects. But the article is about 3D printing of actual tools, replacement parts and other items for astronauts. What type of information processing in ground stations do you mean?

Mydesign
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Re: 3D printing at space station
Mydesign   7/15/2013 11:57:29 PM
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Ann, I mentioned about data processing, modulation and printing at space stations. Normally astroneual datas are transmitting to the ground stations and it ill get processed through various tools/software and final printing.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: 3D printing at space station
Ann R. Thryft   7/16/2013 12:16:22 PM
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Mydesign, thanks for the clarification. The whole point of 3D printers in space is to provide tools, replacement parts, etc. onsite.

Mydesign
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Re: 3D printing at space station
Mydesign   7/19/2013 3:12:55 AM
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"thanks for the clarification. The whole point of 3D printers in space is to provide tools, replacement parts, etc. onsite."

Ann, replace parts- you mean that printing the exact parts in 3 dimensions and replacing it as component at space station. Amazing, plan to buy one for my office (grin)

Greg M. Jung
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Next Steps
Greg M. Jung   7/4/2013 6:19:55 PM
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Good to see the foresight that NASA has in this area.  I think the next steps will be to expand the different types of material that can be used for printing (since ABS is not suitable for every appliction).  Some type of 3D printing that can produce a metal object would be very desireable also.  Perhaps the ABS matrix can be loaded with metal particles as a next step.

Also, I can see where this technology needs to eventually be paired with a CAD workstation nearby (since some astronauts may want to design their parts in space also, rather than totally depending upon an earth station uplink for data).

 

taimoortariq
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Re: Next Steps
taimoortariq   7/7/2013 6:59:35 AM
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I agree, it might be anologous to as what a CNC machine does here on the earth. Where you enter the cordinates and you can create your own metal parts. NASA is already doing R&D on that, hope they accomplish it soon.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Next Steps
Ann R. Thryft   7/9/2013 1:35:59 PM
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Greg, Made In Space was careful not to specify yet what materials they expect to use, but reading between the lines makes me think metals are being investigated, as well as local building materials such as NASA is investigating via other 3D printing space projects.

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