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Noclevername
2014-Dec-19, 07:53 PM
http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-12/19/3d-printed-space-wrench


Made In Space, the California company that designed the 3D printer aboard the ISS, overheard Wilmore mentioning the need for a ratcheting socket wrench and decided to create one. Previously, if an astronaut needed a specific tool it would have to be flown up on the next mission to the ISS, which could take months.

This isn't the first 3D printed object made in space, but it is the first created to meet the needs of an astronaut. In November astronauts aboard the ISS printed a replacement part for the recently installed 3D printer. A total of 21 objects have now been printed in space, all of which will be brought back to Earth for testing.

Very cool, and very useful.

Nicolas
2014-Dec-20, 09:12 AM
It may not look as sleek or go as fast as in Star Trek (yet), but this is the future happening here. Not only the manufacturing possibilities but also the weight of a 3D printer and the lack of waste give it a huge edge over having a small CNC lathe and mill up there (which could also create what you email to it).

Van Rijn
2014-Dec-20, 09:32 AM
And this is technology that is and will continue to be developed here on Earth over the coming decades. Flexible small scale manufacturing is going to be revolutionary in space and on the ground. Even without anything near what a Star Trek replicator can do, it will be a very disruptive technology.

docmordrid
2014-Dec-20, 01:40 PM
This train is leaving the station at warp 8.

Aerojet-Rocketdyne recently printed an engine turbopump that tested very well, and SpaceX has actually been flying a printed LOX valve on F9. Dragon 2's SuperDraco abort/landing thruster is also printed. JPL has also printed objects using multiple, gradient alloys - different characteristics at different parts of the structure. A designers dream.

Cruithne3753
2014-Dec-20, 06:54 PM
So printed objects are strong enough to be useful then. I'd assumed they'd be relatively fragile compared to components fabricated in a more traditional manner.

Buttercup
2014-Dec-20, 06:59 PM
Crazy!! I still can't wrap my head around this technology. Never could have imagined it. :)

Nicolas
2014-Dec-20, 09:47 PM
So printed objects are strong enough to be useful then. I'd assumed they'd be relatively fragile compared to components fabricated in a more traditional manner.

They are not as strong as steel, but they are strong. If you need to get a rusty bolt loose, you'd likely kill a standard plastic printed wrench. If you just need to get a new bolt fastened to a limited torque, they're fine. Certainly for a limited number of uses they'll be fine. If you get the chance to hold a 3D printed object, you'll feel how strong (and heavy) they are. I certainly was surprised the first time I got to try one. They're a lot stronger than most plastic toy tools.

docmordrid
2014-Dec-20, 10:05 PM
Printed metal can be anything from lithium-aluminum to steel or even alloys stronger than steel. SpaceX has been printing Inconel alloys, which are exceedingly tough. The AJR turbopump was a titanium alloy.

Just as an example, this is a 3D printed SuperDraco engine pod (2 thrusters) capable of over 36,000 lbf of thrust. Dragon V2 has 4 of these pods. Note the armor around each thruster. If one fails the other survives, throttles up and Dragon V2 keeps flying.

http://tapatalk.imageshack.com/v2/14/12/20/2d2a03429a4b2e72b8536855e443fa0d.jpg

Van Rijn
2014-Dec-21, 04:15 AM
So printed objects are strong enough to be useful then. I'd assumed they'd be relatively fragile compared to components fabricated in a more traditional manner.

There are actually quite a number of different printing technologies for plastics, ceramics, and metals. Depending on the technology and application, the properties of the printed object can be superior to what can be done with conventional manufacturing. Aerospace companies are early adopters because printed objects can be made more specific for an application, often of lower mass, stronger or more durable for the application, yet cheaper to manufacture than using a subtractive method (which often amounts to removing most of the starting material).

The printer they sent to the ISS is apparently a plastic printer, but there's also been work on a metal electron beam system for use in space:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electron_beam_freeform_fabrication


I think in future you're going to see much more sophisticated hybrid systems that combine both additive and subtractive manufacturing methods that can use a wider array of materials. And you'd probably have manufactured goods using parts from different types of 3-D printers. For something like the ISS, you'd probably have at least two or three different types of units.

Frost Bite
2014-Dec-21, 05:44 AM
Don't forget the food!

http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/feature_3d_food_prt.htm

Nicolas
2014-Dec-21, 07:34 PM
My last response about strength was referring to the common plastic strand 3D printers like the one apparently available on the ISS.

Noclevername
2014-Dec-21, 07:39 PM
Don't forget the food!

http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/feature_3d_food_prt.htm

Personally, I don't see reshaping food as a necessity.

NEOWatcher
2014-Dec-21, 07:48 PM
Personally, I don't see reshaping food as a necessity.
I was thinking the same thing. About the only thing that it could provide is carefully measured portion control.

But; since astronauts are smart and can measure their own food, I don't see why it would be any more beneficial. Besides, how much resource will be used in keeping the thing clean?

Frost Bite
2014-Dec-21, 11:09 PM
I think it's about more than just portion control or being able to mix your own food.

There's comfort and minimizing conflict on long missions. Going to Mars, how does one feel about sucking goo from a tube for the year to get there? Then, after you get there, you are still gonna be eating goo from a tube for year after year. Maybe with a fresh veggie once in a while from a tiny grow facility. You wouldn't be getting much in fresh food supplies from resupply missions. So I'm guessing reconstructed food shapes that require some chewing would go far with regards to long term comfort and participants having one less thing wearing mentally. I think after a month of nothing but goo I would begin to get a little irritated.

KaiYeves
2014-Dec-21, 11:46 PM
It's very cool technology.

Noclevername
2014-Dec-22, 12:58 AM
I think it's about more than just portion control or being able to mix your own food.

There's comfort and minimizing conflict on long missions. Going to Mars, how does one feel about sucking goo from a tube for the year to get there? Then, after you get there, you are still gonna be eating goo from a tube for year after year. Maybe with a fresh veggie once in a while from a tiny grow facility. You wouldn't be getting much in fresh food supplies from resupply missions. So I'm guessing reconstructed food shapes that require some chewing would go far with regards to long term comfort and participants having one less thing wearing mentally. I think after a month of nothing but goo I would begin to get a little irritated.

I assume that for a Mars mission they'd have more than just a tiny grow facility, as there would be no resupply missions from Earth during the flight. Life support systems would need some type of ecological regeneration to last that long alone, without the easy refills of LEO stations. And astronauts now on the ISS do not need to put up with "goo from a tube".

Launch window
2014-Dec-28, 01:05 AM
Don't forget the food!

http://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/home/feature_3d_food_prt.htm

wow, the applications just keep coming

novaderrik
2014-Dec-28, 03:47 PM
the durability of printed parts is also being tested out here on earth in race cars.. it's mostly lightweight plastic parts being done now, but you can bet that they are also working with printed metals to get the strongest parts with the least mass possible, and i've read that the oem manufacturers are looking into printed parts for production cars:

http://www.stratasys.com/~/media/Main/Secure/White%20Papers/Rebranded/SSYS-WP-MotorTrends-03-13.pdf

selvaarchi
2015-Jan-11, 12:44 AM
This article is not about space but about 3D printing. It is reporting from 2015 International Consumer Electronic Association (CEA). The way and speed it has developed (and is developing) it will be essential equipment for any bases to be built outside earths environment.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2015-01/09/c_133906392.htm


Tools, toys, cakes and wearable clothes. 3D printing is breaking out of the labs into people's life at 2015 International CES.

In 2013, there were only one or two 3D printing companies that exhibited at CES. One year later, the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA) created a 3D Printing Marketplace section at CES, with 20 exhibitors and 7,200 square feet of exhibit space devoted to the category. This year, the section has grown to 54 exhibitors and 18,450 square feet, an increase of about 156 percent in square footage, said Karen Chupka, senior vice president of CEA events and conferences.

"3D printing is an emerging technology that has the potential to change the world," said Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis, CEA. Back in February 2013, the world's first 3D printing pen 3Doodler was introduced by toy company WobbleWorks, quickly catching the attention of drawing fans. As of last month, more than 125,000 units had been sold globally, making it the best-selling 3D printing device in the word, said WobbleWorks.