Additive manufacturing (AM) seems to have its fingers in almost every pie these days. From rapid prototyping to large-scale production to medical and dental usage; 3D printing is everywhere. With that in mind, it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that AM has designs on your dinner plate.
Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC) has received a six month, $150,000 grant from NASA to investigate the potential of using AM to build meals. The basic idea follows the standard pattern of AM. In this case, instead of slowly building up layers of metal or plastic, the RepRap style printer will build up layers of protein, sugar and carbohydrates. Continue reading
For the first time, Europe has had the chance to see the hardware and technology behind some of NASA’s projects. Called “NASA: A Human Adventure,” the exhibition, which launched in January 2011, has assembled a collection of instruments, artifacts, and spacecraft.
NASA’s space exploration equipment has moved from Stockholm, Sweden to Madrid, Spain, and to Istanbul, Turkey, through the space act agreement. White Room Artifacts used a variety of materials and processes, including 3D printed models produced by Solid Concepts, to manufacture the necessary pieces. Continue reading
Additive manufacturing (AM) has a whole lot going on in the world, and, increasingly, has a lot going on out of this world as well. 3D printing in space is an idea that excites a lot of people. Both NASA and the ESA have notions about building moon bases using AM, and a proposal has been put forward to use the technology to build satellites in orbit.
Clearly, there are a lot of ideas floating around about using AM in space, and most of those ideas require ongoing research and development. That’s where Made in Space comes in. Founded in 2010, the company combines NASA research veterans, astronauts and entrepreneurs all brought together to explore the possibilities offered by off-planet 3D printing. Continue reading
If NASA were singing a song to the European Space Agency (ESA), it might be “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.” The ESA recently revealed a plan to construct a lunar base using additive manufacturing (AM), possibly following NASA’s experiment with fueling a 3D printer with crushed moon rock. Now, NASA has released information about its own plan to build a lunar base with AM, with help from a multi-legged robot.
The robot called ATHLETE (All-Terrain Hex-Legged Extra-Terrestrial Explorer), is being built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), and has been in the testing phase for a number of years now. It was designed specifically to explore the surface of the moon, and now may be refitted to add AM elements. Continue reading
For people who look to the stars as the next great frontier of exploration, the moon figures prominently in their view. As exciting as a trip to Mars might be, returning to the moon is probably a more practical goal and could have a number of useful results. With all the scientific advances made since the last lunar landing, researchers could learn plenty about what it takes for humans to survive off-planet, just by hopping next door.
That kind of research does require a rather permanent presence, however, which means constructing a base of operations on the moon. Any construction on the moon raises some serious logistical questions. How do we get building materials to the site? Do we need to train construction workers as astronauts to build the base? And, most importantly, how much will all of that cost? It seems as though additive manufacturing (AM) may have the answers. Continue reading