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3D print real spaceships NASA


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http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/31/4678046/nasa-funding-spiderfab-3d-printing-parts-in-space

I find this amazing. Plus I have heard that they think they can print designs that would not only not be possible to launch but not be possible to exist on earth because of gravity.

very exciting. We dont need Webb Telescope. We will just print one bigger for less cost!

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Really? You'd somehow 3D print a telescope? Telescopes have to be *extremely* precise, and 3D printing is not a magic wonder process. It has advantages, and it has disadvantages, compared to traditional manufacturing.

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Really? You'd somehow 3D print a telescope? Telescopes have to be *extremely* precise, and 3D printing is not a magic wonder process. It has advantages, and it has disadvantages, compared to traditional manufacturing.

3d printing is more precise then any other manufacturing process we currently have on earth (I think). That said I doubt the mirrors could be but maybe the solar panels and the like. I bet it also depends on what kind of wave lengths they want to capture.

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3D printing is far, far, far coarser than even a garage machineshop.

It's wonderful for creating things, but your finishes and your tolerances are measured in mils (thousandths of an inch), where a decent CNC mill they're in the 1/10,000ths to 1/100,000ths.

It's a very cool thing to be able to do, and very useful in many situations, but it's not especially precise and it's far from a wonder-process.

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3D printing is far, far, far coarser than even a garage machineshop.

It's wonderful for creating things, but your finishes and your tolerances are measured in mils (thousandths of an inch), where a decent CNC mill they're in the 1/10,000ths to 1/100,000ths.

It's a very cool thing to be able to do, and very useful in many situations, but it's not especially precise and it's far from a wonder-process.

I have heard that they have 3d printed solar panels here on earth which is pretty cool.

anyway, the NASA funded project looks very cool.

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3d printing is more precise then any other manufacturing process we currently have on earth (I think). That said I doubt the mirrors could be but maybe the solar panels and the like. I bet it also depends on what kind of wave lengths they want to capture.

Sorry but..

So.... Much..... Cluelessness.....

Modern 3d printers, even the mega high quality ones are still crude compared to modern manufacturing methods. Some of the tolerances on rover parts are absolutely insane. I'm sure it will vastly improve over the next ten years but for now, not as good as other methods. The mirror and sensor would defiantly have to be made by other means, the mirror has to be 99.9999999999999999999999999999999% PERFECT and the sensor will have to be processed in some weird ways. But yea the NASA project does look pretty cool though their printer will probably only be making wrenches and fittings for the most part. I wonder how the material it uses reacts to vacum?

Edited by DerpenWolf
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3d printing is more precise then any other manufacturing process we currently have on earth (I think).

It really isn't. You'll get much better surface finish and dimensional accuracy from machining. Additive layer manufacturing is a useful process, but like all processes it has good and bad points. It's an extra tool in or tool box, it's not a wonder tool that replaces everything else.

The invention of ALM will probably rate about equivalent to things like the CNC mill or welding IMO. Very useful, but there certainly isn't going to be a "new industrial revolution" like some of the media are flapping about.

The wavelength of light captured by a PV cell determined the material it's made of, btw, not the process used make it.

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A telescope (or any other satellite or spacecraft) is made of more than just solar panels and structure. How do you 3D-print mirrors, optics, gaskets, valves, filters, seals, insulation, fluids, computers, sensors... ? Even if you could print some of those things, you would still need to assemble and test everything, which would be prohibitive on orbit. And you need to send up the material of course.

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The point of the project seems to be to develop a way to deploy large trusses in orbit in a very space-efficient manner. It won't save on weight or cost (in fact lifting the material for the truss plus the robot would be slightly more expensive than just the truss), but it does potentially give a way to pack large space frames into very compact bundles that will fit inside the fairings on normal launchers. It also means the truss wouldn't have to be designed to survive launch forces, which removes a major constraint on the design of trusses that wouldn't be highly stressed in orbit.

Nobody is suggesting building an entire spacecraft this way, but for something that might need a large structure (large radio telescope maybe?) then it could be handy. All the other components would be built the normal way and attached to the truss after it was complete.

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3D printer with a mill head. Tolerance problem solved and bam, you've got telescopes.

You actually don't machine optical telescope mirrors anyway. They're cast and polished to dimension IIRC, there's no advantage to trying to make one via ALM. But yes, combining a CNC machine with something like an SLS machine would be pretty badass, although a bit impractical.

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I think it's mostly applicable to something like large scale truss structures or hull work. The robot plus printer I mean. So we can save on EVA's.

Regarding the rest I still think the best manufacturing is probably a human with the right tools at his/her disposal.

Atleast until we make a decent robotic counterpart to arms, hands, fingers, eyes and so on.

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They're cast and polished to dimension IIRC

It's much more complicated than that.

High precision optical elements like mirrors or lenses need to have a homogeneous structure made of very precisely selected material - manufacturing glass or metal alone is a very difficult process with only a handful facilities around the world capable of producing highest quality base - in nearly all cases these are completely separate companies from those that do the next step.

It has to have a composition adjusted down to fractions of percentage and a homogeneous structure, which means that they have to be slowly cooled with equal rate in it's whole volume which is a very time-taking process that needs to take place in a very controlled environment.

Then these slabs of glass or metal are transported to the final manufacturer who cuts them and molds to a rough shape of a final product - than it is polished while rotating on their axis (to ensure desired spherical surface) using various materials stepping down to finer and finer grades. It's a very complex and precise process that even for commercially available lenses can take hours (in some cases days) using extremely precise equipment under controlled environment. We're talking here about removing layers of atoms in a final polish.

That's why DSLR lenses can cost thousands of dollars each. It's a very complex process requiring a lot of super-precise manufacturing techniques. Nothing that comes even remotely close within a reach of 3D printing even solely by the requirement of having a homogeneous crystalline structure.

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the requirement of having a homogeneous crystalline structure.

That's the bit a lot of lay-people enamoured of 3D printing seem to miss. Just because you can extrude or sinter something into a fun shape, doesn't mean it'll have the right engineering properties. Things like crystallographic structure and surface finish can be critical to how a component performs, and demand a certain process to achieve. People seem to have this idea that ALM can make anything you want, which is wrong.

Additive processes aren't actually that novel anyway. I'm sure the semiconductor industry laughs at everybody else, they've been including additive steps in their fabrication processes for decades. It's just that we're now able to do it on a macro scale as well.

Edited by Seret
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Clueless post is clueless.

Helpful post is helpful. I actually do know how telescope mirrors are made (made a couple myself), and you could do it like that, provided you could keep the glass hot enough to set all at once (which being in a vacuum, it would) and had enough precision in the mill head.

But y'know, thanks for your insight and all.

Edited by Winter Man
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What is this, 17th century? If you can extrude an optical fiber, you can assemble a telescope. Certainly, if you are building it on Earth and want to send it in one piece, mirror is much simpler and will give you better quality for the weight. But if we are talking about a sort of thing that an orbital 3D printer can assemble, astronomical inteferometer will do just fine. Classically, these are built from smaller telescopes, but utilizing Faraday effect in the optical fiber, you can build an astronomical interferometer that will rival any telescope we have sent into space to date or plan to send in the near future.

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Helpful post is helpful.

I made a helpful post below the one you quoted.

I actually do know how telescope mirrors are made (made a couple myself),

It's like I'd be saying that if I build my own laser at home - I'm able to build a laser cannon for the army.

and you could do it like that, provided you could keep the glass hot enough to set all at once (which being in a vacuum, it would) and had enough precision in the mill head.

Read this: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/threads/85581-3D-print-real-spaceships-NASA?p=1259589&viewfull=1#post1259589

Carefully.

That generally happens when people getting caught up trying to make something work, it gets completely forgotten that it may not even be needed at all!

And then you find that something else is needed.

Read this: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/threads/85581-3D-print-real-spaceships-NASA?p=1259603&viewfull=1#post1259603

Carefully.

Edited by Sky_walker
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I made a hopeful post below the one you quoted.

It's like I'd be saying that if I build my own laser at home - I'm able to build a laser cannon for the army.

Read this: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/threads/85581-3D-print-real-spaceships-NASA?p=1259589&viewfull=1#post1259589

Carefully.

And then you find that something else is needed.

Read this: http://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/threads/85581-3D-print-real-spaceships-NASA?p=1259603&viewfull=1#post1259603

Carefully.

You say that like your word is some kind of divine truth. Besides, I already know what your post says, and I agree that yes, that is how they are currently made. That's not up for dispute. I'm just saying they could be done with additive layer and milling, if you happened to be trying to build a mirror in space. It wouldn't be the best method on Earth by a long way, but different environments enable different techniques. Also, K2's point about the optical fibres would actually be way better.

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Nope, you did not read carefully and you still don't understand what's the problem:

Additive manufacturing doesn't let you to control structure of a material with a precision down to the level of atoms. Mill head isn't helpful with that either. The reason why we are using many different techniques to manufacture just a single piece of high precision equipment is not because of "environment" - it's because they let us control structure to the point impossible to achieve by 3D printing.

What we need is to develop molecular printing capable of repetitive manufacturing of items in macro scale with reliable precision. 3D printing is way too limited.

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I understand what you think the problem is, but it's not there. The additive part would only be used to get the rough shape correct without needing a massive mold that would either need to be separately manufactured or lifted up in one piece, defeating the point. It would still be in the liquid phase for quite some time, allowing a homogeneous crystal to form.

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