When something breaks in space, ordering a replacement part can be an astronomical inconvenience. Yet, what if astronauts could simply produce the components they needed on demand? NASA is currently testing a new breed of 3D printers that can create pieces of equipment in low parabolic flights on Earth – and they hope to one day send the technology to Mars.
NASA’s “additive manufacturing” machines fashion objects layer by layer, eliminating the need to send equipment into orbit. Originally developed a decade ago at the Langley Research Center, Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication (EFB3) uses an electron beam gun, dual wire feed, and computer controls to compose metal elements from “feedstock”, or raw materials. Currently, NASA engineers are working towards improving the technology for use on the International Space Station. If feedstock could be sent into orbit instead of finished equipment it would save space (since it fits easily into cargo holds) and cut down on the overall weight of the payload.
The development of space-based 3D printing not only marks a new era in exploration, but a valuable partnership between NASA and manufacturing companies. Businesses such as the California-based Made in Space, Inc. have been collaborating with NASA for several years to send their printers to the stars.
‘This is exactly the kind of technology we want to capitalize on,’ remarked NASA’s Deputy Administrator, Lori Garver to the Daily Mail. ‘We want to push the technology boundary, not only with improvements of our own systems, but it is our job to also see that growth in the private sector.’
Soon, science fiction could become reality with the creation of these advanced machines!
Via the Daily Mail
- 3 Comments >
164 Comments >
- 0 Comments >
- 19 Comments >
164 Comments >
- 82 Comments >
- 31 Comments >
- 89 Comments >
- 2002 Comments >
411 Comments >
BACK TO SCHOOL GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a HP Pavilion dv6 Laptop and Green Prize Package (Worth $1155!)
- 386 Comments >
- 365 Comments >
- 350 Comments >
282 Comments >
LAST CHANCE: Enter to Win a Voltaic Laptop-Charging Solar Backpack Filled With Green School Supplies (Worth $500)!
277 Comments >
GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win a Sloan AQUS Grey Water Toilet System That Recycles Your Sink Water (Worth $189)!
- 247 Comments >
240 Comments >
LAST CHANCE: Enter Inhabitat's Back To School Contest to Win $250+ of Green Goodies Including a Voltaic Solar Backpack (Worth $129)
- 228 Comments >
- 221 Comments >
- 187 Comments >
Top image: A child is put to work at a militia-run mine in Watsa. © Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic Captured during a 2004 visit to the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Bleasdale's images "tell the story of the country's mineral resourceREAD MORE >
You've all heard the tired mantras about changing your lightbulbs and recycling at home in order to save the planet - are you yawning yet? Many consumers think that going green is a gesture of self-sacrifice that often comes at great expense and inconvenienceREAD MORE >
Did you know that there are wolves living near you in almost every state in the country? Sadly most of these wolves are not living in the wild, but in wolf sanctuaries, which are conservation organizations set up to protect them and help grow their populationREAD MORE >
BANANAS You might have heard that bananas are favored by athletes because they contain potassium and it's that same reason that makes them great hangover cures. When you're hungover, your body has lost a lot of potassium that needs to be replenished, so eatingREAD MORE >
Images © Graham King “The shopping cart tree symbolizes both generosity and abundance, as well as acknowledging those less fortunate where their whole world may be housed in a cart. We see shopping carts every day and take them for granted. IndividuallyREAD MORE >
TIP 1: Wrap Your Home in Insulation - "The More, The Better!" Proper insulation is probably the most important factor you can control in creating an energy-efficient home. I always say insulation is like chocolate, the more you have, the better! On average,READ MORE >
While conjuring up comfort in the home seems like a basic principle, it’s a far more complex process for architect & remodeling guru Sarah Susanka, who believes that comfort can significantly influence the sustainability of your personal abode. WithREAD MORE >
Two architects, Jos Burger and Wouter Keijzer of BK. Architecten, in charge of the renovation of the old church decided to preserve the atmosphere of the existing place with a spatial intervention that preserves its historical value. The three new floors wereREAD MORE >
For centuries, the Dutch have manipulated the landscape to move water away from their dwellings. Instead of battling the elements, Netherlands-based firm Waterstudio just announced plans to construct the world's first floating apartment complex in 2014! TheREAD MORE >
The Biomimicry Manual: What can We Learn About Resilience, Weight Loss, and Kidney Disease from the Grizzly Bear?I'm off to the wilds of Montana this week, doing some in-person, up-close biomimicry research, and I've got my fingers crossed I'll see a grizzly bear. But you know, over there, not over here. With five inch long claws, massive muscular shoulders and forearms,READ MORE >
INHABITAT: How does the term Colorfast describe your latest show? R Nelson Parrish: The term Colorfast originally is a textile industry term derived at the beginning of the last century. It defines how a color cannot fade, wash out, or be diluted over time,READ MORE >
Photocredits: Architect Koen Olthuis - Waterstudio.NL and Pieter Kers FLOAT! is a beautiful volume that explores the world of floating architecture through historic, current, and future developments as well as the technologies behind them. Eye-catchingREAD MORE >