Back in May, we wrote a blog on how the future of 3D printers was going to impact the world. Our team was in awe at all the innovative ways people were using this advanced technology. We’ve been talking quite a bit about 3D printers, and we are excited to share a little bit of 3D printing news with you. Here is what has been going on over the past few months…
In April of this year, the first ever 3D printer was designed to be launched into outer space. The goal of NASA’s launch was to land the printer near the international space station and expand the capabilities of manufacturing in space. Space officials announced that launching these high-tech 3D printers will make expeditions to farther destinations much cheaper and even more efficient.
The 3D printer launched in September and was about the size of a microwave. The printer was intended to be used to produce tools and other materials needed by space crews. By using the 3D printer for these needs, the process of waiting on shuttles to bring more supplies would be eliminated. Space.com says once the 3D printer was aboard a space craft, it would take about 15 minutes to an hour to print the needed supplies.
After the September launch and installation, the 3D printer was put through a series of tests. NASA tested the differences between printing in space versus printing on Earth. In October, NASA opened up a contest to students, challenging them to design useful space tools that could be made using the 3D printer. Entries end December 15th and the winner will get to watch their design get printed live from NASA’s Payload Operations.
This November, NASA created two rocket engines with 3D printed injectors. NASA officials said injectors are very complicated to make having over 160 parts. Now these complex pieces can simply be entered into a computer and prepared for printing. This type of production will make each piece more precise.
In late November, the first ever zero gravity 3D printer was installed at the International Space Station. The dream of building materials in space has become a reality!
The Future of 3D Printers is Here
This is only the beginning. Think about the future of 3D printers. Some sources are saying that eventually, 3D printers will be the only objects launched into space, and the rest will be printed. Here at StratoStar, we launch weather balloons into space and collect video footage. Our team is excited for the up and coming innovations in 3D printing. For more information about STEM education download our free e-book.