Space Station Astronauts Make First 3D Printed Spare Part in Space

Photo Credit: NASA

Photo Credit: NASA

According to a Tuesday story in Cnet, the astronauts on the International Space Station have manufactured a spare part using a 3D printer. The feat has profound implications not only for space exploration, but also for the eventual settlement of the high frontier. The part in question was for the printer itself, “a faceplate for the extruder printhead, emblazoned with the logo for Made In Space, the company that designed and built the 3D printer for NASA, and the NASA logo.“

One of the limiting factors in space travel from the very first missions in the 1960s to the current era is that everything astronauts need have to be taken with them, including air, water, food, and spare parts. But, the new technology of 3D printing, or as some call it additive manufacturing, could change all of that. Now astronauts on deep space voyages or in future space settlements will be able to make their spare parts and tools to order.

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