Tech
3D Printing in Space
07 Apr 2015

Back in November 2014, Commander Barry Wilmore aboard the International Space Station 3D printed the first object to be transmitted from Earth to space to meet the needs of an Astronaut. The wrench was part of a series of 3D test prints within the ISS Columbus Laboratory module’s microgravity science glovebox, which will be sent back to earth later this year for analysis to see how they compare to their Earth-printed counterparts.

3d printed wrench being used in space

Above: Commander Barry Whitmore using the 3d printed wrench on the ISS

"For the printer's final test in this phase of operations, NASA wanted to validate the process for printing on demand, which will be critical on longer journeys to Mars," explained Niki Werkheiser, the 3D printing program manager for the International Space Station.

 The wrench was designed by Noah Paul-Gin, an engineer at Made In Space Inc., The Californian company contracted by NASA to design, build and operate the printer. It was built using additive manufacturing, depositing 104 layers of plastic in the process.

 "In less than a week”, continues Werkheiser, “the ratchet was designed, approved by safety and other NASA reviewers, and the file was sent to space where the printer made the wrench in four hours.”

3d render of NASA wrench

Above: 3d render of the wrench, which was printed on the ISS

This is all very familiar to the team here at Love & Robots, as we already email our 3D files all across the world to allow localised manufacturing of the designs you order. This cuts down on carbon footprint, shipping costs, and order fulfilment time.

You can get one step closer to realising those childhood dreams of becoming an Astronaut (or was it just me?) by printing your own space wrench with this file provided by NASA: http://nasa3d.arc.nasa.gov/detail/wrench-mis

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