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8/8/2017 by mdc
Matthias Engler reports that Additive Manufacturing is already a proven technique in space on-board the International Space Station (ISS). Thus far a 3D printer has been used to print medical supplies, as well as tools for the space station itself, and to experiment with various kinds of plastics to use in space. Why produce in space? Because this means building next level products, developing innovative applications for space AND creating benefits on Earth, based on totally different materials properties not possible under Earth’s gravity but in microgravity. This is happening today. But what about spacecraft (probes and orbiters) built in space for space exploration?

Manufacturing in micro-gravity in space or under Moon (0.16g)/Mars (0.38g)-gravity will allow to build differently than on Earth under 1g. How thrilling might spacecraft look like, when freed from the restrictions of sustaining extreme launch stress? In combination with bionic design, spacecraft like probes and orbiters produced in space can also be built with different materials, using additive manufacturing. Coatings can enable parts to become heat resistant, without the need for the base-material of the part to be heat resistant itself. Moreover, coatings can allow sustainable In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) on the Moon and beyond by using local matter as base material, and bringing along specialty coatings from Earth. In a similar way, such performance materials could be added to in-situ resources used for additive manufacturing, equipping them with desired characteristics.

Developing new performance materials for space will also lead to use on our planet. Building heat resistance coatings unlocks new potential for additive manufacturing on Earth as well. A cheap plastic filament can be used as base material, while the coating creates the heat resistant characteristics.

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Open Resource  |  2017/08/08  |  94 Report Broken   Tell Friend

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