You know something is going to change the world when it’s picked up by NASA as a solution to one of their greatest problems. Believe it or not, NASA is looking into using 3D printing so they won’t have to bring delicate, sensitive instruments and building blocks into space. The transportation cost for bring those things is simply too high. Instead, NASA wants to create those objects in space. It’s a huge step for human exploration, and it’s going to take 3D printing to a whole new level.
NASA is in full gear working with Tethers Unlimited, which is a company that currently specializes in space 3D printing technologies. Together they are developing a system called SpiderFab, a robotic 3D printing and assembly system, which NASA will use to print and assemble tools and objects in space. With a system like this, NASA would save millions in transportation costs. The system could also be used when populating Mars, which is something that NASA is heavily planning at the moment.
There is currently a race going on to put the first human on Mars, and NASA isn’t exactly in the forefront of this race at the current time. But this robotic 3D printing system could very well leapfrog them into the lead if they are able to prove that printing objects in space is more cost efficient and reliable than actually rocketing the same objects into space.
NASA recently awarded Tethers Unlimited an additional $500,000 to continue the development of technologies that will allow NASA to create objects in space. The SpiderFab adapts additive manufacturing techniques to enable space systems to fabricate and integrate large components automatically. So far, the goal is to manufacture objects such as antennas, solar arrays, sensor masts, and shrouds. If this project is successful, we’re looking at a whole new era which will take us further into space and allow us to explore regions we’ve only dreamed about visiting in our lifetime.
SpiderFab – Automatic 3D Printing Of Objects In Space
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