Tag Archives: space
NASA has announced that it will be sending the first 3D printer to space in August 2014. It’s not just a PR stunt, NASA sees real utility in having 3D printing capabilities on the International Space Station (ISS).
One benefit is creating replacement parts onsite. It is hard and expensive to send parts up to the space station. When something breaks, it may take months or years to replace. With a 3D printer, this can be shrunk to hours and digital designs can be sent from ground control.
Another project that is creating excitement is the KickSat cube satellites. Instead of sending full satellites up to space, astronauts can 3D print small, cube-shaped satellites, fit them with circuit boards, and literally toss them out the window of the space station.
3D printing in space is not easy, though. The way that plastic, or other materials, extrude and bind in zero gravity is different than on Earth. NASA has partnered with Made in Space, an organization that is composed of 3D printing experts and engineers, to develop the custom 3D printer for NASA. Made in Space has already tested their 3D printer on a parabolic flight and is scheduled to send it to space in August 2014.
Watch this new video from NASA to learn more and get a glimpse of the 3D printer model, which itself was 3D printed.
NASA calls 3D printing “game changing for new mission opportunities”
This space technology demonstration may lead to more efficient manufacturing of rocket engines, saving American companies time and money.
NASA‘s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland conducted the successful tests for Aerojet Rocketdyne through a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement.
A series of firings of a liquid oxygen and gaseous hydrogen rocket injector assembly demonstrated the ability to design, manufacture and test a highly critical rocket engine component using selective laser melting manufacturing technology. Aerojet Rocketdyne designed and fabricated the injector by a method that employs high-powered laser beams to melt and fuse fine metallic powders into three dimensional structures.
“NASA recognizes that on Earth and potentially in space, additive manufacturing can be game-changing for new mission opportunities, significantly reducing production time and cost by ‘printing’ tools, engine parts or even entire spacecraft,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington. “3D manufacturing offers opportunities to optimize the fit, form and delivery systems of materials that will enable our space missions while directly benefiting American businesses here on Earth.”
This type of injector manufactured with traditional processes would take more than a year to make but with these new processes it can be produced in less than four months, with a 70 percent reduction in cost.
“Rocket engine components are complex machined pieces that require significant labor and time to produce. The injector is one of the most expensive components of an engine,” said Tyler Hickman, who led the testing at Glenn.
Aerojet Rocketdyne’s additive manufacturing program manager, Jeff Haynes, said the injector represents a significant advancement in application of additive manufacturing, most often used to make simple brackets and other less critical hardware. “The injector is the heart of a rocket engine and represents a large portion of the resulting cost of these systems. Today, we have the results of a fully additive manufactured rocket injector with a demonstration in a relevant environment.” he said.
Glenn and Aerojet Rocketdyne partnered on the project with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. At the Air Force lab, a unique high-pressure facility provided pre-test data early in the program to give insight into the spray patterns of additively manufactured injector elements.
“Hot fire testing the injector as part of a rocket engine is a significant accomplishment in maturing additive manufacturing for use in rocket engines,” said Carol Tolbert, manager of the Manufacturing Innovation Project at Glenn. “These successful tests let us know that we are ready to move on to demonstrate the feasibility of developing full-size, additively manufactured parts.”
For more information about Aerojet Rocketdyne, visit: http://www.rocket.com
For information about NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/glenn
For more information about the Air Force Research Laboratory, visit: http://www.afrl.af.mil
The Manufacturing Innovation Project is supported by the Game Changing Technology Program in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech
3D Printing Coming to an International Space Station Near You
In the world of 3D printing, some of the most amazing and seemingly far-fetched ideas that have been dreamt up relate to how 3D printing could be used in space. We have published stories about research to 3D print a lunar base or repair a spacecraft.
Well, there’s more. NASA has partnered with Made in Space, Inc. to launch a joint initiative for the first 3D microgravity printing experiment to the International Space Station.
“As NASA ventures further into space, whether redirecting an asteroid or sending humans to Mars, we’ll need transformative technology to reduce cargo weight and volume,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said during a recent tour of the agency’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. “In the future, perhaps astronauts will be able to print the tools or components they need while in space.”
If successful, the 3D Printing in Zero G Experiment (3D Print) will be the first device to manufacture parts in space. 3D Print will use extrusion additive manufacturing, which builds objects, layer by layer, out of polymers and other materials. The 3D Print hardware is scheduled to be certified and ready for launch to the space station next year.
NASA is a government leader in 3D printing for engineering applications. The technology holds tremendous potential for future space exploration. One day, 3D printing may allow an entire spacecraft to be manufactured in space, eliminating design constraints caused by the challenges and mass constraints of launching from Earth. This same technology may help revolutionize American manufacturing and benefit U.S. industries.
“The president’s Advanced Manufacturing Initiative cites additive manufacturing, or ’3D printing,’ as one of the key technologies that will keep U.S. companies competitive and maintain world leadership in our new global technology economy,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington. “We’re taking that technology to new heights, by working with Made in Space to test 3D printing aboard the space station. Taking advantage of our orbiting national laboratory, we’ll be able to test new manufacturing techniques that benefit our astronauts and America’s technology development pipeline.”
In addition to manufacturing spacecraft designs in orbit, 3D printers also could work with robotic systems to create tools and habitats needed for human missions to Mars and other planetary destinations. Housing and laboratories could be fabricated by robots using printed building blocks that take advantage of in-situ resources, such as soil or minerals. Astronauts on long-duration space missions also could print and recycle tools as they are needed, saving mass, volume and resources.
“The 3D Print experiment with NASA is a step towards the future,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made in Space. “The ability to 3D print parts and tools on demand greatly increases the reliability and safety of space missions while also dropping the cost by orders of magnitude. The first printers will start by building test items, such as computer component boards, and will then build a broad range of parts, such as tools and science equipment.”
Made in Space previously partnered with NASA through the agency’s Flight Opportunities Program to test its prototype 3D Print additive manufacturing equipment on suborbital simulated microgravity flights. NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program offers businesses and researchers the ability to fly new technologies to the edge of space and back for testing before launching them into the harsh space environment.
For this mission, Made in Space was awarded a Phase III small business innovation and research contract from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. After flight certification, NASA plans to ship 3D Print to the space station aboard an American commercial resupply mission. NASA is working with American industry to develop commercially-provided U.S. spacecraft and launch vehicles for delivery of cargo — and eventually crew — to the International Space Station.
For more information about Made in Space, visit: http://www.madeinspace.us
NASA 3D Printing Initiative
A NASA 3D printing initiative is embracing 3D printers and Maker technologies to prepare them for the future of space travel.
NASA has commissioned a company to build a 3D printer that can go into space. We reported about SpiderFab back in September 2012.
“If you’re going to explore Mars, or work on station, [and] you need to bring your own materials, then you really create a sustainable method of constructing a new habitat.”, said Matthew Reyes, Contractor at NASA Ames Research Center.
“Space Shop is our attempt to take the best practices and lessons learned from what we call the maker community,” said Dave Korsmeyer, the director of engineering at NASA Ames.
Learn more in the CNET video below.