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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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