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3D print real spaceships NASA


Tux
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Factually, they only propose this space 3D print for trusses, which I believe even a coarse one would perform fine. Although optical telescopes are a no-go with the truss - you still need to attach the mirrors, which requires humans and I believe it's not really safe just to launch the mirrors w/o any support - but this can be a go for very huge radio telescopes. Also, it could save some money for making space stations & bases, by making the trusses and supports in space and only launching the manned modules + the print machine and print materials. Things that need fine machining is still a no-go, but structural components which exist there just to keep things together is fine.

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So awhile back I watched a 'conversation' with NASA employees working on this project. Here are a few things that they had to say

1. when designing products for launch its important to design them in a way that they do not fall apart during launch. With 3D printing we dont have to worry about those constraints.

2. With 3D printing we can design objects that would literally fall apart or not even be possible on earth because of earths gravity.

3. Volume constraints are also not a problem.

So yes you have to launch the materials into space but you do not need nearly as much mass, or volume then you would otherwise.

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The beauty of 3D printing is that you can make really complex shapes and parts that are calculated by analysing the forces they need to take. I have seen an engineering grade titanium bottle opener that just had material in places where it needed it to work properly, saving a lot of material that would be wasted by traditional casting. To make really qualitative parts you will probably also need to mill them in certain places, but that is a relatively minor problem once you can do the printing in space. These kind of printers are used in environments that require rather high standards, like implants, so I think the quality issue is non-existent.

The main problem now is that this type of high quality 3D printing has been developed for Earth environments, so we will either need to build gravity ships (which kind of defeats the point of building in space) or develop the technology further. One can only imagine the complex and light (and fragile) structures possible with this kind of construction - if you can build a ship that weighs a lot less, you also need to take less fuel allowing us to do missions that were just not feasible before.

We are not there yet, far from it. But if and when we master this process we will have an incredibly powerful tool in our toolbox.

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Edited by Camacha
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The main problem now is that this type of high quality 3D printing has been developed for Earth environments, so we will either need to build gravity ships (which kind of defeats the point of building in space) or develop the technology further.

There was something a while back about using laser additive (this kind:

) with an opposing stream of gas so the workpiece stayed still in free space. Also, I live right next to Renishaw who did that bottle opener, they did a bike that was pretty awesome too.
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The beauty of 3D printing is that you can make really complex shapes and parts that are calculated by analysing the forces they need to take. I have seen an engineering grade titanium bottle opener that just had material in places where it needed it to work properly, saving a lot of material that would be wasted by traditional casting. To make really qualitative parts you will probably also need to mill them in certain places, but that is a relatively minor problem once you can do the printing in space. These kind of printers are used in environments that require rather high standards, like implants, so I think the quality issue is non-existent.

The main problem now is that this type of high quality 3D printing has been developed for Earth environments, so we will either need to build gravity ships (which kind of defeats the point of building in space) or develop the technology further. One can only imagine the complex and light (and fragile) structures possible with this kind of construction - if you can build a ship that weighs a lot less, you also need to take less fuel allowing us to do missions that were just not feasible before.

We are not there yet, far from it. But if and when we master this process we will have an incredibly powerful tool in our toolbox.

well the company that is doing this research has successfully printed the whole cycle of the vomit comet so not only in Zero Gs but all Gs in between.

Granted the vomit comet is not space but that experiment is coming up this winter :)

I strongly encourage everyone on this thread to watch this video...the whole thing :)

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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.

Jeez... you're really stubborn in ignoring high-school level physics and opting for a blind faith. As if a mix of two mystical elements: space and 3D print would be be-all end-all of technology.

Here, learn something about your "liquid phase for quite some time" in 0g: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen06/gen06056.htm

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Jeez... you're really stubborn in ignoring high-school level physics and opting for a blind faith. As if a mix of two mystical elements: space and 3D print would be be-all end-all of technology.

Here, learn something about your "liquid phase for quite some time" in 0g: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen06/gen06056.htm

please please I beg of you to watch the entire video. words from NASA themselves...please

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im quite interested in lunar dmls machines. you could magnetically separate the iron right out of the lunar regolith and have a medium for printing metal parts. if you can find a way to separate the aluminum, lightweight metal parts. im also rather interested in concrete printers for building surface structures.

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you could magnetically separate the iron right out of the lunar regolith and have a medium for printing metal parts.

Added bonus for iron: it will barely (if at all) rust on the moon. If you do not need to take it with you from Earth it is a very useful and versatile building material.

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