by Burke Speaker | September 30, 2013 4:34 pm
NASA is sending a 3D printer into space, which will serve as a miniature tool factory for astronaut missions.
From the Associated Press:
The printers would serve as a flying factory of infinite designs, creating objects by extruding layer upon layer of plastic from long strands coiled around large spools. Doctors use them to make replacement joints and artists use them to build exquisite jewelry.
In NASA labs, engineers are 3-D printing small satellites that could shoot out of the Space Station and transmit data to earth, as well as replacement parts and rocket pieces that can survive extreme temperatures.
The 3D printer — small enough to carry in your hand — will cut down on the need for astronauts to carry numerous tools for work.
“If you want to be adaptable, you have to be able to design and manufacture on the fly, and that’s where 3-D printing in space comes in,” said Dave Korsmeyer, director of engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, to the AP.
The upcoming mission for fall 2014 will also be used for a demonstration printing job.
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