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.
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.
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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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, 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.
"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.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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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