Sunday, July 22, 2012

Future Space Travel May Rely on '3D Printing'

Made-in-Space Parts Could Become Space Travel's New Norm

Date: 19 July 2012 Time: 12:47 PM ET


Additive Manufacturing Microgravity Test
NASA has carried out parabolic flights that mimic microgravity to test "additive manufacturing" – a process that allows for on-call fabrication of spare parts. Work is under way to pursue hardware and procedural changes to make equipment more robust and astronaut-friendly.
CREDIT: Courtesy of NASA/Karen Taminger

Maybe it's time to shelve the old saying, "you can't leave home without it," when it comes to packing for trips to space.
Say you're hunkered down inside Mars Base-1 and a vital piece of life-support gear breaks down. A hurried search in supply bins proves futile. The next cycler spaceship with equipment is months away. Time is running out.
This disaster scenario could be short-circuited by what's tagged as "additive manufacturing" — a process to fabricate or 3D print a critical widget layer by layer. Using additive manufacturing equipment, items can be cranked out on the spot, whether they're made of hard plastics or certain metals.




Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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1 comment:

  1. I do remember thinking, 'This is a strange way to make a buck. Travel around the world and people boo you wherever you go,' ... Night after night you just know they're going to boo. Then a few years later you do it again, and everybody acts like they knew it was brilliant all along.
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