NASA is planning to send a 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS) in August 2014.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is working with Made In Space, which specializes in low-gravity additive manufacturing on this project. According to the team, more than 30 percent of the spare parts currently aboard the ISS can be manufactured by Made in Space’s 3D printers. “The first printers will start by building test coupons, and will then build a broad range of parts, such as tools and science equipment,” said Made in Space CEO Aaron Kemmer.
“3D printing is an exciting technology,” Niki Werkheiser, 3D Print project manager at NASA Marshall’s Technology Development and Transfer Office, said in a statement. “It will allow us to live and work in space with the same efficiency and productivity that we do on Earth, with the ultimate objective being to eliminate reliance on materials and parts launched from the ground.” …
…SMRC will conduct a study for the development of a 3D printed food system but NASA says these Phase I SBIR proposals are very early stage concepts that may or may not mature into actual systems. This food printing technology may result in a phase II study, which still will be several years from being tested on an actual space flight.
“NASA recognizes in-space and additive manufacturing offers the potential for new mission opportunities, whether “printing” food, tools or entire spacecraft.” space agency officials said. “Additive manufacturing offers opportunities to get the best fit, form and delivery systems of materials for deep space travel.”