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?
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
Independent science safety company Underwriters Laboratories is providing new guidance for manufacturers about how to follow the latest IEC standards for implementing safety features in programmable logic controllers.
Automakers are adding greater digital capabilities to their design and engineering activities to promote collaboration among staff and suppliers, input consumer feedback, shorten product development cycles, and meet evolving end-use needs.
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