Girls in STEM

Update: Spotlight School Success

Update: Spotlight School Success

SUCCESS! Since electing Liberty Elementary School as our Spotlight School, we have come to adore the Liberty family more and more each day.  T

News and Insight

Search articles, videos and updates on 3D Printing and its growing presence in our world

Girls in STEM

WATCH: Ms. Houck's TEACHER FEATURE

WATCH: Ms. Houck's TEACHER FEATURE

This week, we bring you a short video on a STEM'tastic educator! Scroll down to WATCH this educator doing what she does best - teachi

Videos

Cool Vid: 3D Printing for K-12 Education

Cool Vid: 3D Printing for K-12 Education

Watching super cool EDUCATIONAL videos from across the web is one of our favorite pastimes! Join us in learning more about 3D printing in the clas

Science and Math

'Tis the Season for STEM

'Tis the Season for STEM

'Tis the season for GINGERBREAD and working the delicious treat into your family - and CLASSROOM - fun. Last week, as students across the

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Aerospace 3d printing to make spare parts in space

By Staff Writter

Aerospace 3d printing to make spare parts in space

Engineering

While NASA has led the way in developing 3d printing technology to create parts of rockets and spacecraft, one of the more exciting areas of aerospace 3d printing is actually manufacturing parts and tools in space out of raw materials. The first experiment along those lines will soon be conducted on the International Space Station, according to Space.com, to conduct tests under microgravity.

The space applications for 3d printing include the ability to create parts and tools ad hoc, rather than having to store a supply of them on a space station, lunar base, or deep space mission. Thus, when something breaks down, all the astronauts have to do is to print out a new part to install using raw materials at hand. On the surface of a celestial body such as the moon or Mars, the raw materials could be acquired locally.

In effect, NASA is developing something akin to the Star Trek replicator, except that the method of additive manufacturing is a little more low tech than turning energy into matter as depicted in the 24th Century.

The advantages of using 3d printing technology in space are obvious. Instead of taking everything that could conceivably be needed in case of equipment breakdown, astronauts will take a 3d printer or two and enough raw material to make any part that might be necessary. The savings in weight and thus cost could be, to coin a phrase, astronomical.

It gets better when one is exploring the surface of another world where raw materials are at hand. On the moon or Mars the astronauts would just have to mine materials to feed into the 3d printer to make anything they need. The technology promises to revolutionize space travel and make it cheaper and more frequent.