Confidence in 3D printers must be quite high if NASA is contemplating this new technology in space next year, as it seem the sky is not the limit for the ever evolving tech that comes with 3D printers. The introduction of 3D printers in space will enable astronauts to produce tools and manufacture spare parts in zero gravity.
According to a report on BBC News and Technology plans by NASA to launch the first 3D printer in space in 2014 means the International Space Station could use this as a convenient way to not only reduce overall costs, but also assist when it comes to making frequent resupply missions.
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This will be the first time a 3D printer has been used in such an environment and the fact that this could actually reduce costs is a welcome sign that 3D printers are an amazing idea, although it has been suggested that the device in question will have to be fairly robust and deal with lift-off vibrations as well as operate safely with the confines of an enclosed space station.
While the aforementioned article on the BBC page discusses the uses and how this could be a major problem solving device, we recently highlighted some scepticism surrounding the emergence of 3D printers, as we discussed the hype and how it is rarely documented when it goes wrong.
Some suggest that the technology is still not perfect and sometimes the finished article does not always come out as expected, although users are less inclined to show an end result that does not live up to its expectations. While some feel that more failures have been experienced to successes, we get the impression 3D printers still have some way to go, but with talk about them being used in space, they must be confident in this technology.
In addition, NASA are toying with the idea of using 3D printing to produce small satellites to be launched from the Space Station to transmit data home. With the likes of NASA aiming to save more money do you feel 3D printers in space will be another giant leap for mankind? Or do you think the 3D printer technology still needs more time?