3D printing technology has made several leaps and bounds within the last few years, especially in regards to the materials that can be used to create different objects. These days, even coffee grounds and beer can be recycled into art. Planetary Resources and their partner, 3D Systems, have just blown the competition out of the water for the most innovative material ever used: asteroid dust. The “asteroid-mining” company says this step is just the beginning for humans utilizing raw materials from outer space.
This week, Planetary Resources showed off its creation, which resembles the company’s Arkyd craft currently in testing, at 3D System’s booth at the Consumer Electronics Show booth in Las Vegas. They also discussed the innovation in an interview at the Engadget stage. The small spacecraft prototype’s origins are from a meteorite found in the Campo Del Cielo impact near Argentina. Its composition includes iron, nickel, and cobalt. To create the prototype the asteroid was pulverized and powdered before being transformed by 3D Systems’ ProX DMP 320 metals 3D printer.
Planetary Resources is far from its mission of eventually bringing terrestrial mining and manufacturing practices right out to the celestial sources of raw materials. CEO Chris Lewicki explained to Engadget, “Instead of manufacturing something in an Earth factory and putting it on a rocket and shipping it to space, what if we put a 3D printer into space and everything we printed with it we got from space?” He has confidence that we will one day be able to make this dream a reality. He and his teams are currently looking into how to effectively 3D print in zero-gravity. These advancements show how science fiction is slowly becoming less and less fictional.
Images via Planetary Resources