EDUCATION

Top Applications of 3D Printing In Space

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NASA Artemis program
Above: NASA’s Artemis program/Image Source: NASA

Although first invented in 1983 by the scientist Chuck Hull, 3D printing has gained lots of popularity over the past decade as the technology has become more and more accessible. Even though it is not used by many as of now, it is said to be one of the greatest phenomena of the future. The next frontier, however, for the technology will be space exploration. Industry leaders and experts are exploring applications of 3D printing in space that can enhance space faring in terms of the distance travelled, the ability to spend long times in space and even work on space stations.

We aim to explore these top applications in space to understand how 3D printing can benefit space-tech.

Applications of 3D Printing In Space

Spare Parts

The ability to build spare parts in space is one of the most important applications of 3D printing in space. Although there isn’t a wide variety of raw materials in space for manufacturing, there is an infinite amount of dust particles. Did you know the dust particles that are lying around in space can be used to make replacement parts for different space equipment? In the case that you did not, now you do! Right now, all the replacement parts for space missions, including the International Space Station, come from Earth but one can only imagine how much of a boost it will be to the space cause when these kinds of parts start being manufactured from space itself. All the resources and planning required to send something to a specific place in space would not be needed anymore. Alongside, manufacturing on site would mean that replacement parts would be brought into use much faster.

Till now, only a very limited number of objects have been made through three-dimensional printing in space. One of them is a ratchet wrench made through a zero-gravity 3D printer. This printer was invented through a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Made In Space organization.

Food

Rapid 3D Printing News
Above: Cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka conducted the “cultivated beef steak” experiment aboard the International Space Station/Image Credit: Roscosmos

Let us face it; there are very few things in the world that hold more importance to the human race than food. Food is the source of our energy and we must consume it, no matter where we are. This is why many resources have been spent in the past to send food to people on different stations in space, including the International Space Station. 3D printing of food is also one of the crucial applications of 3D printing in space.

Just like 3D printing is being experimented upon to reduce the costs of sending replacement parts to space, 3D printing is also being experimented upon to reduce the resources spent on transporting food to space. In fact, NASA has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in research relating to the 3D printing of food in space.

Anjan Contractor, one of the people working with NASA on this cause, managed to invent a food three-dimensional printer that could print pizzas even in space! When you think about it, you come to notice the fact that pizzas are not very different from other 3D printed items. It is made up of layers of different raw materials: the wheat flour comes at the bottom, the sauce comes in the middle, and the cheese comes at the top.

Lunar Base

3D Printed Moon Infrastructure, Applications of 3D Printing In Space
Above: ICON Project Olympus Concept render by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group/Image Source: ICON

Apart from spare parts and food, some entities are even hoping to form a lunar base using 3D printing. This lunar residence will give astronauts a base to research the moon. One of the entities exploring this option is the European Space Agency. Now, that is really taking the construction 3D printing industry to the next level!

Conclusion

The article explored the intersection of both the growth of 3D printing technology and the rise of affordable space exploration from the standpoint of the top applications of 3D printing in space. If this topic isn’t worth the cost of the Xfinity internet plan you are paying for, then we do not know what is! It’s a wrap! We are optimistic that reading all of the above would have given you a better idea of the applications of 3D printing in space.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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