Thanks, jhankwitz, for the enthusiasm and suggestions about how this might be implemented. When you say "managed by a few people" I assume you mean remotely, correct? One open question is just how autonomous the SpiderFab robot will be.
This is a great idea. Creating a 3D manufacturing plant in space could certainly enable production of components that can't now be launched due to size and structure. Parts currently need to be able to withstand launch vibration and size restrictions. Having a manufacturing plant stabilized with gyros and flywheels, managed by a few people, and powered by sunlight would be a giant step forward.
One phrase in this story jumped out at me: "kilometer-scale systems." If you imagine a 1-km structure here on earth, it's mind-bloggling. I wonder how long it would take to build kilometer-scale systems with 3D printers.
Great questions, 78RPM. How the robot navigates and stabilizes itself was not described anywhere. I suspect that may not have been worked out yet, or that it's related to how the Tresselator functions. Such problems have already been worked out for the (attached-to-the-ISS) Canadarm, which we've written about here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=267732
It would seem like the movement of the arms would create torque that would rotate or move the robot relative to the part it's printing. How does it stabilize itself when printing and fastening those thin parts? Does it have anything like jet packs? Does it have flywheels like an image-steady camera lens?
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.