Will 3D printing in space allow us to build new worlds?

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/will-3d-printing-space-allow-us-build-new-worlds/

Will 3D printing in space allow us to build new worlds?

So far, space travel is limited because we have to transport everything we need using rockets. But what if we could build whatever we needed? Jason Dunn, whose company built the first 3D printer to operate in space, shares his Brief but Spectacular take on the future of self-sufficiency in space travel.

TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: Now to our weekly feature Brief But Spectacular.

Tonight, we hear from Jason Dunn of Made In Space, a company based out of Singularity University, the California-based firm responsible for making the first 3-D printer to operate out of this world.

JASON DUNN, Made In Space: I think that, in our lifetime, everybody we know will have a chance to go to space.

It’s really hard to do space exploration today, because we are dependent on bringing everything on rockets from the surface of the planet. So, what we started working on was the idea of 3-D printing in space and in fact just building the things you need wherever you need it.

Today’s version of space exploration is like a camping trip. We bring everything we need with us, and, if something goes wrong, we go back home really quick or we call home and ask for some help.

So if we want to go live on Mars one day or go back to the moon and set up a base, we need to learn how to be self-sufficient in the way we explore space.

Figuring out how to make a 3-D printer work in zero gravity was one of the most difficult parts. We got to take our 3-D printers into an aircraft that flies acrobatic maneuvers in the sky. You get a little period of weightlessness and you actually float inside of the airplane.

Everything is falling into place that we can actually send people to Mars and to the moon and to the asteroids, that we can build entirely new worlds of our own like large space stations. And that’s really the vision, is that we have the entire universe at our disposal to go out and explore.

Growing up in Florida was — for me, it was a lot about exploration. I lived on the Gulf of Mexico. I had my own boat. I spent most of my days exploring mangrove swamps and estuaries and things like that.

Space is like the ocean that I grew up sitting on the edge of, and I feel like, as humanity, we’re on this — like, the surface of the planet, which is like the shore, and we’re ready to now finally go out and see what’s out in the ocean.

My name is Jason Dunn, and this is my Brief But Spectacular take on why our future will be made in space.

References:

pbs.org

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/will-3d-printing-space-allow-us-build-new-worlds/

Advertisements

First zero-gravity 3D printer!

Europe is set to send its first 3D printer into the final frontier this year to experiment with zero-gravity manufacturing on long space voyages.

The European Space Agency plans to deliver its new Portable On-Board 3D Printer (POP3D for short) to the International Space Station by the end of June, making it the second3D printer in space. The diminutive 3D printer is a cube that measures just under 10 inches (25 centimeters) per side and requires a small amount of power to operate.

“The POP3D Portable On-Board Printer is a small 3D printer that requires very limited power and crew involvement to operate,” said Luca Enrietti of Altran, prime contractor for the compact printer, in an ESA statement. [10 Ways 3D Printing Will Transform Space Travel]

In order to ensure the printer does not affect the space crew’s environment, Altran designed the machine to use a heat-based printing method and a harmless, biodegradable plastic.

The printer will be tested by Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA as part of her Futura mission on the International Space Station. She is one of six crewmembers currently living on the orbiting lab.

Europe’s Pop3D printer won’t be the first of additive manufacturing tool to reach space.

Last September, the California-based company Made In Space sent a 3D printer to the space station as part of a NASA experiment. That machine has already printed parts for itself and printed a working ratchet tool from a design beamed into space from Earth.

Made In Space’s 3D-printed objects, as well as anything POP3D produces, will eventually be returned to Earth and compared with identical items made with 3D printers on the ground. The comparison should help scientists determine whether 3D printed objects made in space work as well as they do on Earth.

Altran Portable On-Board 3D Printer

If the innovative approach to space manufacturing works, its implications could be vast for future space exploration, ESA and NASA scientists have said. The concept for Pop3D was unveiled last October during a conference attended by 350 3D printing experts from across Europe

The technology could allow astronauts to print delicate tools in space that could not otherwise survive the stresses of launching into space, Altran representatives explained.It could also reduce the need to pack spare parts on resupply missions, as well as lower total number of parts needed both on a spacecraft or the space station, therefore lowering the overall cost of spaceflight.

“In the case of a complex injector of a rocket engine, we are able to take the total number of parts needed from around 250 down to one or two,” one space 3D-printing advocate Steffen Beyer, head of Materials and Process Technology at Airbus Defence and Space, said in the ESA statement. “That represents a revolution in design and manufacturing.”

SPACE.COM
by Kasandra Brabaw, Space.com Contributor   |   January 30, 2015 11:02am ET