NASA is about to take a giant step in 2014. It will transport first 3D printer via space flight to the International Space Station (ISS) next year. This is so that tools and spare parts needed in case of an emergency may be manufactured by the 3D printer in a jiffy.
In spite of a huge chunk of NASA’s budget being taken away by recent governments in the United States, the space research institute still has a lot of capabilities in its arsenal. The previous week, evidence came up of the presence of water on the surface of Mars.
Today, the National Aeronautics Space Administration has decided to relay 3D printers to its space station. The operation will begin next year. Space is a place where any human agency often faces catastrophes. Accidents happen and can have lethal consequences. Suppose some astronaut required certain tools to make a piece of equipment? Instead of searching for the components on board, he can just manufacture them in a matter of minutes on the 3D printer.
3D printing has been also termed additive manufacturing. It works by layering materials till a solid object is ready. Mostly, plastics are used. But 3D printers that employ other elements and compounds have been invented recently. The only problems the scientists at NASA are working on are the extra power supply needed for the 3D printer and the exhaust smoke that results from its functionality. If things work out in the end, space will be a safer place thanks to this almost sci-fi gadget.
Dave Korsmeyer, director of engineering at Nasa's Ames Research Center, told BBC, "If you want to be adaptable, you have to be able to design and manufacture on the fly, and that's where 3D printing in space comes in."