Open for Business: 3-D printer creates first object in space on the International Space Station: http://go.nasa.gov/1rpMuBh
The International Space Station’s 3-D printer has manufactured the first 3-D printed object in space, paving the way to future long-term space expeditions.
NASA astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore, Expedition 42 commander aboard the International Space Station, installed the printer on Nov. 17 and conducted the first calibration test print. Based on the test print results, the ground control team sent commands to realign the printer and printed a second calibration test on Nov. 20. These tests verified that the printer was ready for manufacturing operations. On Nov. 24, ground controllers sent the printer the command to make the first printed part: a faceplate of the extruder’s casing. This demonstrated that the printer can make replacement parts for itself.
The 3-D printer uses a process formally known as additive manufacturing to heat a relatively low-temperature plastic filament and extrude it one layer at a time to build the part defined in the design file sent to the machine.
On the morning of Nov. 25, Wilmore removed the part from the printer and inspected it. Part adhesion on the tray was stronger than anticipated, which could mean layer bonding is different in microgravity, a question the team will investigate as future parts are printed.
Read more: http://go.nasa.gov/1rpMuBh