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NASA Demonstrates 3D Printing in Zero Gravity
NASA performed 3D printing under zero gravity in space to demonstrate that 3D printers work normally in space. The International Space Station manufactured the first 3D printed object in space in November 2014. NASA collaborated with Made In Space, Inc., to design, build and test the 3-D printer used in space. Therefore, the first 3D printed object in space was a faceplate engraved with names of NASA and Made In Space, Inc. NASA considers this experiment as the first step towards evolving use of additive manufacturing in space missions. 3D printing can be used as a fast and inexpensive way to manufacture parts in space, for example, to make repairs on International Space Station.
3D Printing the Eta Carinae Star System
Eta Carinae is a bright star system consisting of two stars surrounded by gas. Scientists have been using computer simulations to study the star systems. Computer simulations can be difficult to study on a 2D screen. Therefore scientists used 3d printer to create a 3D model of the star system. The 3D model makes it easier to study the star system.
3D Printing a Wrench in Space
NASA and Made In Space, Inc. have partnered to install a 3D printer in the International Space Station. This is the first tool to be 3D printed in space that was designed on earth and emailed to the International Space Station. The wrench took 4 hours to create on the space station.
“These first [3D] prints will be brought down to Earth for examination where they’ll be compared to identical objects manufactured on the ground,” wrote Chen, chief strategy officer of Made in Space. “We’ll use them to characterize the effects of long-term microgravity on our 3D-printing process, so that we can model and predict the performance of objects that we manufacture in space in the future.”