3D printing, will help NASA advance the future of manufacturing. The revolution is already under way. At the NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center additive manufacturing is used to create parts for a next-generation rocket that will launch astronauts to the most distant destinations ever.
NASA centers around America are also exploring 3D printing technology. NASA’s Ames Research Center is using 3D printers to enhance small satellite development. NASA’s Glenn Research Center is using additive manufacturing techniques on the RL-10 rocket engine injector. And NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is working on at ways lunar, Martian or asteroid regolith might be used to provide the raw material needed for 3D printing during deep space missions.
One of NASA’s newly open workshops at Ames Research Center, nicknamed the Space shop.
“Space shop is our attempt to take the best practices and lessons learn from what we call the maker community. Trying to take that spirit of entrepreneurship and bringing to NASA.” says Dave Korsmeyer, the director of engineering at NASA Ames.
Filled with state of the art equipment, such as 3D printers, laser cutters for sheet metal and wood, drill presses and band, you might think it is kind of makerspace or machine shop in high school.
With 3D printing engineers and designers can improve their design in an earlier stage right in their office or the workshop using their UP Plus 3D printer. NASA is also working to demonstrate 3D printing on board the International Space Station. The technology would allow future explorers of Mars to “print” the tools they need and, once used, recycle the tools back into their printers to make their next needed item. In the future 3D printers and robots could be sent to Mars ahead of astronauts to manufacture their construction tools or even the building blocks.