NASA released a video today that shows off how its Zero Gravity 3D printer will “enable Star Trek replication right there on the spot.”
Along with manufacturer Made in Space, the space agency has been developing a zero-gravity printing model for the International Space Station.
The 3D Print Experiment performed well during microgravity flight tests this summer, and Made in Space announced on Aug.7 that the company’s 3D printer has also passed a battery of tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirming that the machine can survive the rigors of launch and function in a microgravity environment.
The printer will be used to manufacture small spare parts and tools. NASA will preload the blueprints for those parts onto the 3D printer, so astronauts may be able to “make things we’ve thought of that could be useful”, says astronaut Timothy “TJ” Creamer. Additional layouts can be uploaded from Earth anytime later.
The goal of 3D printing is to take this capability to microgravity for use on the International Space Station. In space, whatever astronauts have available on orbit is what they have to use – but just like on Earth, parts break or get lost. When that happens, there’s a wait for replacement parts, or the need to have multiple spares that have to be launched. The ability to conduct 3-D printing in space could change all of that.
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.