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Zero-G 3D Printer an 'out of this world' first

Zero-G 3D Printer an 'out of this world' first

by KARL SORENSEN

ISS Commander Butch Wilmore holds up the ratchet after removing it from the print tray. (NASA Photo)

ISS Commander Butch Wilmore holds up the ratchet after removing it from the print tray. (NASA Photo)

Mountain View CA is home to more than 50 tech firms, including goliath Google, but the small, 2010 startup Made in Space has done something few, if any, of its visionary neighbors could even imagine. This fall, the 25-person additive manufacturing technology developer bounded onto the scene with its idea for the first zero-gravity printer. On Sept. 21, CEO Aaron Kemmer watched as his Zero-G Printer was loaded onto NASA's Falcon 9, becoming the first 3D printer of its kind in space.

Then, on December 18, Made in Space made more headlines when it became the first to successfully send a socket wrench to the International Space Station (ISS) without the use of additional rockets. By teaming with NASA to communicate directly with ISS Commander Butch Wilmore, the firm simply emailed him the data needed to print the 3D object.  

Made in Space hopes that this is only the beginning of 3D manufacturing in space. With designs on printing satellites and using moon soil as printer resin, among other ideas, the possibilities seem endless.  To learn more about Made in Space, check them out here.

Made In Space modeled the ratchet in Autodesk Inventor and then 3D printed several iterations on an identical Zero-G Printer at its ground station. The ratchet took four hours to print.

Made In Space modeled the ratchet in Autodesk Inventor and then 3D printed several iterations on an identical Zero-G Printer at its ground station. The ratchet took four hours to print.

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