NASA-Backed Project on 3D Printing in Space Takes Off

It would enable 3D printing to automatically fix itself in real time.
Fabienne Lang

Future space settlements don't want to rely on shuttling supplies to and from Earth as much as is currently needed. 

So, a NASA-backed project will be carried out by Relativity Space to create a 3D printing machine that could detect and fix 3D printing in real time, as per Parabolic Arc. This is something that is integral to future space exploration. 


3D space printing

When you're up in space, you can't afford for anything to go wrong. 

What is great about this project is that it would allow for pieces already in Space and in Moon bases, for instance, to directly repair a habitat piece or radiation shield when the need arises. 

The tech would be fast and strong enough to detect and fix these pieces on the spot. 

The project is only just starting, with only the first phase beginning. Many exact details still need to be addressed. For now, NASA is offering Relativity Space $125,000 over six months to work on the project. 

In its proposal summary, Relativity Space said "3D technologies such as automatic defect detection is a key enabler for 3D printing off-planet, in line with NASA’s exploration goals."

"This, in turn, would yield benefits such as the capability for in-situ manufacturing, on-demand manufacturing from feedstock, manufacturing objects that cannot be launched from Earth, and/or the ability to design missions in novel ways to reduce cost."

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If all goes smoothly and the project is fruitful, this could mean a lot for future space exploration as well as production generally. Settlers on the Moon or on Mars wouldn't have to depend on Earth's supplies as much as they would be able to safely print parts thanks to local soil. 

And back on Earth, this project would be fantastic for the future of 3D printing. Flaws wouldn't be such an issue when printing, as these could be detected and fixed during the project. There would be less waste from tossed out creations and more room for creativity and taking risks. 

3D printing keeps on giving and giving, creating incredibly useful mechanisms across various industries, like this medical one.

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