Quoted: 3D printing in space — will it fly?

“You can get rid of concepts like rationing, scarce or irreplaceable.”

Andrew Filo, an inventor who’s consulting with NASA Ames Research Center on its project to test 3D printing in space. The hope is that by being able to print in space, astronauts will be able to travel light. The first 3D printer, which is the size of a microwave, that will be used in space is from Made in Space, a Mountain View company. “Imagine an astronaut needing to make a life-or-death repair on the International Space Station,” Aaron Kemmer, Made in Space CEO, told the Associated Press. “Rather than hoping that the necessary parts and tools are on the station already, what if the parts could be 3-D printed when they needed them?” The company also is soliciting ideas from the public, Made in Space co-founder Mike Chen said, according to the Christian Science Monitor. It all sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Not so fast, Scott Crump, who helped develop 3D-printing, told the Associated Press. “The good news is that you don’t have to have this huge amount of inventory in space, but the bad news is now you need materials, in this case filament, and a lot of power.”

 

Photo: Project manager Matthew Napoli, left, and director of R&D Michael Snyder test a 3D printer that will eventually be used in space on Sept. 16, 2013, at Made in Space in Mountain View. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

 

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