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NASA Wants To Test 3-D Printing Aboard ISS

timothy posted about a year ago | from the it-puts-the-droplets-in-the-bucket dept.

Space 115

coondoggie writes "NASA wants to test out 3-D printing technology onboard the International Space Station to find out if the technology could be used to manufacture parts in space." NASA may not be creating any production parts this way for a long time yet, but they've got to start somewhere.

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Debbie Downers (5, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about a year ago | (#43884875)

Why the 'well it sucks and cant be used for anything yet, but we are going to try it' attitude? ISNT THAT THE POINT OF THE ISS? To try the unfeasible and untested? How many experiments have gone up on pure theory alone and never have real world payouts? This FOR SURE will yield valuable data on advanced manufacturing techniques in space. You couldnt ask for a better experiment.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#43884941)

Why the 'well it sucks and cant be used for anything yet, but we are going to try it' attitude? ISNT THAT THE POINT OF THE ISS?

Given the cost of getting stuff up there and the opportunity cost (i.e. other experiments that could be done with the limited time & other resources) I'd say no.

Get it nearly working down here, then tune/polish/tweak it up there.

Re:Debbie Downers (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885065)

Given the risk/reward for the space program, I'd say yes. If it is feasible in zero G to print parts, it would be much easier to ship up the raw materials and then make them there rather than have to ship it from Earth.

If something critical to just one experiment breaks, the cost in lost time waiting until the next trip from Earth rather than building the part immediately to fix it is more than worth it.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885159)

Given the risk/reward for the space program, I'd say yes. If it is feasible in zero G to print parts

Then they should test it on here [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Debbie Downers (3, Insightful)

Calydor (739835) | about a year ago | (#43885235)

You only get what, half a minute to a couple of minutes of zero G at a time on those. I'll admit to not knowing much about 3D printers, but I'm sure NASA is interested in how it fares when running continuously for a couple of hours in zero G.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885283)

You only get what, half a minute to a couple of minutes of zero G at a time on those. I'll admit to not knowing much about 3D printers, but I'm sure NASA is interested in how it fares when running continuously for a couple of hours in zero G.

You only need to half a minute to see if it will work or not. Once you see if it even works in the first place, then you can test how it works long duration.

Re:Debbie Downers (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | about a year ago | (#43885373)

Unless the purpose is to test quality of something more complex than a Lego.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885499)

You're missing the point entirely. You don't even know if a 3D printer can work without gravity. You need to test if you can even get the 3D printer to print anything in zero gravity first before you potentially waste millions of dollars sending a it to the ISS.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | about a year ago | (#43886187)

An FDM printer (Reprap and the like) can work with gravity pointing in any direction, so there's no reason to assume it can't work without gravity. Powder printing might be less doable. Might have to make the powder wet to get it to stick together.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886193)

Ok so we can test that hypothesis cheaply on a zero gravity flight.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887207)

It's not a question of if it needs gravity pointing in any direction, it a question of if it needs gravity period. For instance, does it need the object to be printed it remain in one place as it is being printed. If the object isn't bound to some sub-straight, then the direction of gravity is irrelevant.

The questions are:

1. Can an object be printed if gravity is zero? For instance what happens during printing if the object being printed is in motion.

2. If the object moves during printing, can the device account for that movement.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43886225)

You're missing the point entirely. You don't even know if a 3D printer can work without gravity. You need to test if you can even get the 3D printer to print anything in zero gravity first before you potentially waste millions of dollars sending a it to the ISS.

Waste millions?

Employing engineers here on earth to develop technology and iron out the bugs, and send it up on the next flight that is going anyway?
What else would you rather do with those millions?

Re:Debbie Downers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886321)

Why are you people to stupid to understand this?

You test something first on a zero gravity flight. If it works there then you send it to the ISS.

Cost of a zero gravity flight. $250,000
* Based on ZeroG charter flight cost

Cost of a launch to the ISS. $130,000,000
* Based on Space X contract $1.6 billion for 12 flights.

Spending $130 million to test something could be tested for $0.25 million is a waste of money.

Re:Debbie Downers (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43886367)

Apples and Oranges much?

Pick up a small (commercial unit) drive over to the next launch site and toss it into the cargo.
The supply vehicles were going there anyway.
You don't pay for the whole launch when the thing is small enough to fit on your TV tray.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886403)

The supply vehicles were going there anyway.
You don't pay for the whole launch when the thing is small enough to fit on your TV tray.

Zero gravity flights are going on anyways
You don't pay for the whole zero gravity flight either.

Cost of a glove box experiment on a zero gravity flight. And mind you, you can perform multiple experiments in a single glove box.
$35,000

Cost per pound to the ISS
$26,000

Again there is no good reason to test it on the ISS without testing it on zero gravity flight first.

Re:Debbie Downers (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43886437)

Nope.

ZG Flights last maybe 90 seconds, at which point gravity comes back and destroys the entire situation inside the machine.

You can't tell if your machine will operate in space by testing if for 1000 hours by testing 90 seconds at at time. Even the smallest printed item takes longer than 90 seconds to print.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886465)

If it can't even work for 90 seconds let along 1 second, then there is no way it will work for 1000 hours.

You need to test things like can you keep the object you are trying to build in place while you try to build it. In zero gravity the object light float of the the device mid manufacturer.

Re:Debbie Downers (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43886483)

Go away son, you bother me.

Let the adults handle the engineering and science, and you keep wringing your hands and whining about dollars wasted and never trying anything new. With your attitude we would never have gotten to space in the first place.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886521)

I hold a phd in physics. You should leave the science to the professionals like me. You also clearly have a reading comprehension problem. Never have I ever advocated never sending one into space. I stated that we should learn everything we can about 3D printing in zero gravity on a zero gravity flight first. We scientists and engineers call that a proof of principle experiment.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43886539)

Poser.
You hold a phd in nothing.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

CayceeDee (1883844) | about a year ago | (#43886393)

Spending $130 million to test something could be tested for $0.25 million is a waste of money.

To pretend that the entire mission would be dedicated to getting a 3D printer into orbit is to be obtuse to the point of ridiculous. Send it up as a cargo module on a regular flight just like many other experimental packages.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886467)

Every other experimental pack was tested first on a zero gravity flight before being sent up.

A 3D printer should be no different.

Re:Debbie Downers (2)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43887809)

Employing engineers here on earth to develop technology and iron out the bugs, and send it up on the next flight that is going anyway? What else would you rather do with those millions?

Spend it on something more useful. Opportunity cost is commonly ignored in discussion of public spending.

For example, if my post were higher profile, for some reason, we'd probably have a replier come on here to claim that because the US squanders billions on military spending, it should squander millions on poor technology development approaches. Such non sequiturs are common when one doesn't understand that there are choices not made as a result of the spending in question.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#43886377)

If it won't work without gravity, put it in a centrifuge,

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886523)

That's what a zero gravity flight would be great for.

If you could further test, if it needed a centrifuge, what the slowest speed you could get away with and have it still work.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43887793)

Again, you need to test whether it works or not first. And this sort of experiment is very cheap compared to doing anything on the ISS.

Re:Debbie Downers (1, Insightful)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#43885489)

ALso it's relative. You and everything on them are still under the effects of gravity, you're just falling at the same rate as the craft. The physics of liquids such as would be used by a 3D printer would not be accurately comparable to being on the ISS.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885575)

ALso it's relative. You and everything on them are still under the effects of gravity, you're just falling at the same rate as the craft.

Just like in LEO, yes.

The physics of liquids such as would be used by a 3D printer would not be accurately comparable to being on the ISS.

Hey, what's it like being such a fucking moron? Do you know what an "orbit" is?

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#43885615)

Hey what's it like not knowing that gravity's effect is inversely proportional to distance?

The degree that gravity will affect a liquid is greater in the plane then it would on the ISS, since the ISS is much farther away.

Re:Debbie Downers (2)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#43886401)

Sorry, but you really should go back to some basic physics texts. Both the plane and the ISS are in a state of free fall, the distance is irrelevant (ok, technically you could talk tidal forces, but LEO and atmospheric are so close together the difference is tiny).

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885609)

The reason why the things on the ISS are weightless, is because everything on the ISS is falling at the same rate as the ISS. It's exactly the same way on a parabolic flight.

You should read this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weightlessness
with a focus on this section
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weightlessness#A_common_misconception

Re:Debbie Downers (2)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#43885619)

Sure, but at the end of the day, the effect of gravity diminishes with distance, something that might work on the plane may not then have "enough" of a gravitational pull to make it work on the ISS.

YOu can see this with fire, when a match is struck on the plane it'll look the same as on the surface, but when done on the ISS, it behaves differently.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885965)

When you stand on the surface of the earth the is the force of gravity pulling you down (mg) and a force from the earth pushing you up N. You aren't accelerating.

F = ma

The sum of the forces becomes

m*0 = N - mg

This is results in N = mg what we know of as weight.

On the is you are a creating at the acceleration of gravity. In this case the sum of the forces becomes

-mg = N - mg

This results in N = 0 or weightlessness. No where in that equation does the distance between the earth and the ISS come into play.

When you are in an airplain that is flying in a straight level flight, the first equation holds and you have weight because you aren't accerating towards the earth. On a parabolic, flight you are accerating toward the earth at the same rate as gravity so the second equation holds. That's why weightlessness in a parabolic flight is the exact same thing as weightlessness on the ISS.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887545)

On the is you are a creating at the acceleration of gravity.

what the fuck does this conglomeration of gibberish mean?

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887979)

Auto correct

On the ISS you are accelerating at the acceleration of gravity.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#43886427)

Sure, but at the end of the day, the effect of gravity diminishes with distance, something that might work on the plane may not then have "enough" of a gravitational pull to make it work on the ISS.

You do understand that BOTH the astronauts in the space station and people on the plane are in free fall, right?? They may be accelerating at slightly different rates, but they cannot be aware of the difference in acceleration, since there is no force pushing back in either case... as there would be on the earth's surface for example. Objects can't be aware of the different acceleration either.

YOu can see this with fire, when a match is struck on the plane it'll look the same as on the surface, but when done on the ISS, it behaves differently.

Given that NASA itself does experiments with flames [nasa.gov] with the assumption that they behave similarly on these planes as in space, it's pretty clear that you're talking nonsense.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about a year ago | (#43886451)

You and everything on them are still under the effects of gravity, you're just falling at the same rate as the craft.

Why is this modded up? The astronauts on the space station are also falling at the same rate as the craft. They are just falling with the correct trajectory (i.e., enough horizontal velocity) that the vertical component of their fall takes them around the earth. Please look up the definition of "orbit."

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887363)

And what is your reply supposed to mean? Of course you are still under the effect of gravity, THAT'S WHAT ALLOWS THE ORBIT. The ISS is only 0.1 earth radii up anyways, how much of an effect can that have on gravity? It's still 90% of Earth normal up there.

Re:Debbie Downers (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43886721)

I'm more interested in what limitations can be overcome without gravity, especially since the 3D printers I've seen work by building up from a supporting structure.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886883)

That's a great question. Just like one of the things that is researched on the ISS is the growth of crystals in micro gravity.

However before the question can be answered the questions are can you print anything in micro gravity.

Then they should test it. (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#43887959)

Then they should test it on [the reduced gravity aircraft]

Yes, those idiots. They should have done that 2 years ago [madeinspace.us] . I bet they feel pretty stupid right now.

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885545)

It's not "nearly working" down here, it works just damn fine down here -- problem is, the patents are just now starting to expire, so HOBBYISTS are just now muddling through the first steps. Commercial 3D printers are 20 years ahead, and doing quite well.

as opposed to what (1)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43887087)

blowing bubbles

growing frut flies

putting spy satellites

missles and bombs

freeze dried ice cream

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885037)

It's a ridiculous dog and pony show combining the cold dead corpse the 1960s Space Age with the overhyped warm pile of 3D printing.

May be useful some day, so try it now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885069)

Why the 'well it sucks and cant be used for anything yet, but we are going to try it' attitude?

That sounds like an accurate assessment of the usefulness of 3D printers. I'm not sure where you see that in the article, though. Maybe you're reading a different article.

ISNT THAT THE POINT OF THE ISS? To try the unfeasible and untested?

Yes, and isn't that exactly why they are doing it?

Specifically, from TFA, "NASA has some ambitious ideas when it comes to 3D printing saying: "One day, 3-D printing may allow an entire spacecraft to be manufactured in space, eliminating design constraints caused by the challenges and mass constraints of launching from Earth. This same technology may help revolutionize American manufacturing and benefit U.S. industries.""

Re:May be useful some day, so try it now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885749)

Why the 'well it sucks and cant be used for anything yet, but we are going to try it' attitude?

That sounds like an accurate assessment of the usefulness of 3D printers. I'm not sure where you see that in the article, though. Maybe you're reading a different article.

Well, I work for a major satellite manufacturer [thalesgroup.com] and they sure are intending to use structural (metal) 3D-printed parts...

Re:Debbie Downers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886315)

The point is, we are in a recession, the economy has yet to stop hemorrhaging jobs, and the US is spending money on this shit? Isn't R&D what private companies are for, not big spending government boondoggles that do nothing except waste tax dollars.

The ISS has no point of existing these days, other than wasting billions of tax dollars. We don't even have a way to reach it since the shuttles have been scuttled (a good thing, even Uncle Sugar realized 1970s tech wasn't cutting it.)

Advanced manufacturing tech in space? How about paying companies to do advanced tech right here on the planet and not waste billions in useless payloads on something that will never have any returns, short/medium/long term.

Maybe Uncle Sam should start paying on the debts from its #1 creditor, China, before they decide that the bill is past due. We already had one Zimbabwe, I'm not looking forward to seeing $1 bills being replaced by $1,000,000,000 bills for the same thing.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#43886419)

Well, no, private companies kinda depend on government backed R&D and always have. Public research is where the innovation generally initially comes from, companies figure out how to polish that work with their own R&D to bring it to market.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#43886339)

Why the 'well it sucks and cant be used for anything yet, but we are going to try it' attitude? ISNT THAT THE POINT OF THE ISS?

Not sure of your point here, they are doing what you (and I) think they should do, right?

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

jythie (914043) | about a year ago | (#43886391)

People tend to forget that one of the points of NASA is to do work that is no where near ready for profit driven companies to invest in.

Re:Debbie Downers (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43887785)

How many experiments have gone up on pure theory alone and never have real world payouts?

It's worth noting both that the answer in the real world, not the ISS, is "not many" and second, when scientists have limited resources with which to do science, they pick and choose which science they do. The only time this argument even occurs is when someone tries to spend more of other peoples' money without providing an actual reason for doing so.

It should be a warning sign when one appeals to the blue sky science approach.

most cheap printers don't care about gravity (4, Interesting)

gr7 (933549) | about a year ago | (#43884893)

The common, cheap, FDM printers (the ones that squirt out hot plastic from a nozzle) can print just fine upside down. So obviously they will print fine with zero gravity.

Re:most cheap printers don't care about gravity (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885039)

The common, cheap, FDM printers (the ones that squirt out hot plastic from a nozzle) can print just fine upside down. So obviously they will print fine with zero gravity.

Nope. While they may work upside down, 0g can still be an issue. No convection causes major issues (heat does not rise in 0g). They might have fume or thermal problems. There may also be some issues with bearing, lubrication etc.

Ever wonder what fire is like in 0g without convection? Its very strange, and might be what happens to the printer.

Convection problem solved (1)

maroberts (15852) | about a year ago | (#43885421)

The ISS has an atmosphere inside, so heat convection shouldn't be a problem. If necessary, put it in a box with air driven through it to give circulation.

Re:Convection problem solved (2)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year ago | (#43885541)

The ISS has an atmosphere inside, so heat convection shouldn't be a problem.

Wrong. Convection needs gravity. Without it you'd generate a heat bubble.

...If necessary, put it in a box with air driven through it to give circulation.

Right there; however, a simple air blower would do, no need to encapsulate the printer (actually that would be creating problems where none was before.)

Not right - more than one reason for convection (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#43886787)

In addition to buoyant convection there's heat driven air pressure changes that drive convection that are not dependant on gravity although they result in far less convective air flow, to the point where zero gravity flames can be smothered since the waste gas is moving away far more slowly than in an environment with gravity.
So while there will be SOME heat loss from a hot object in microgravity due to convection it's a lot less than in 1g. The only place where there will be effectively zero heat loss due to convection is the outside of the vehicle where it's pretty well vaccuum.


It's not that hard guys and it's a bit lazy to not even bother to check the wikipedia entry on convection before telling people that they are wrong:

In a zero-gravity environment, there can be no buoyancy forces, and thus no natural (free) convection possible, so flames in many circumstances without gravity smother in their own waste gases. However, flames may be maintained with any type of forced convection (breeze); or (in high oxygen environments in "still" gas environments) entirely from the minimal forced convection that occurs as heat-induced expansion (not buoyancy) of gases allows for ventilation of the flame, as waste gases move outward and cool, and fresh high-oxygen gas moves in to take up the low pressure zones created when flame-exhaust water condenses.

Re:most cheap printers don't care about gravity (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year ago | (#43886933)

Fluid materials behave differently in zero-g. For example, the surface tension of water is radically altered with and without gravity present. While it ultimately may not be an issue, I think it's worth mentioning.

Weaponizing space (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43884899)

The 3d printers are just there to make guns in space. And once they made those, where will it end? By the end of the century they will be 3d printing space based lasers.

Re:Weaponizing space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887003)

Space based 3D laser Printer. (HP LaserSat).

Re:Weaponizing space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887573)

how the fuck is this flamebait?

ffs...+1 funny at least

bunch of pussy faggot bitches

FUMES (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43884915)

Mind the toxic fumes.

Re:FUMES (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885055)

Create a 3d printing process that works in a vacuum, then just eject any unwanted gasses?

3d printing would be a boon if the materials are durable enough. They could likely save weight on replacement parts or at least make stop-gaps.

Re:FUMES (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885463)

3D-printing relies on melting plastics. In a vacuum you only have radiated heat.
My guess is that it will be a lot easier to get it working in a pressurized 0G environment.

Re:FUMES (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43886357)

On the other hand, radiated heat may be all you need if you can tune your materials well enough.
If you can manage to keep your part exposed to deep space (not illuminated by sunlight), the radiation efficiency metrics are fairly well defined. [nss.org]

Media management might be a problem, but even that might not be so bad if it could be engineered to clump.

And if so, you could probably engineer some really large printers to print in free space (not enclosed in the ISS).
If you can manage the materials well enough you could print entire structures in space that you couldn't fabricate on
earth due to gravity (like large lattice structures) or, complete living modules, bigger than any lift vehicle etc. You'd have
to lay it down layer by layer with a "traveling depositor" of some sort.

Re:FUMES (1)

labawi (2931497) | about a year ago | (#43886579)

Aren't the three basic heat transfer types: conduction, radiation and convection?
The third doesn't quite work without an encompassing fluid, but the first two do and conduction is the one used to melt the plastic. Solidifying might be an issue, I don't know. Outgassing and boiling might be an even bigger one.

Re:FUMES (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885057)

My first thought: they'll end up with evaporated plastic / whatever reagent they use in 3d printing all over the space station.
What could possibly go wrong?

But who knows... maybe they're aware of this and they're planning to use it to plug all the micro-fissures in the hull of the space station.

Re:FUMES (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#43888007)

ISS has isolation containers called "glove boxes" for anything that might fume, or release small parts or dust. And in fact the 3d printer is built into its own glove-box, as is visible in every PR picture of the device on the most routine google search.

It is a great project... (0)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#43884937)

Until someone pays a Russian hacker a bunch of bitcoins to hack in, then uploads a 3d gun model. No one will be laughing then.

Re:It is a great project... (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43885723)

the gun is not the problem, its what comes out of it

Re:It is a great project... (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year ago | (#43887941)

the gun is not the problem, its what comes out of it

A 3D printer can only make stuff out of plastic, right? Well there are plastic bullets and plastic explosives. I'm not seeing a problem!

Interesting...but (2)

Lt. Squirrel (2488864) | about a year ago | (#43884987)

...in all serious what of practical use could be made outside of plastic hand tools? Isn't most everything that is being used up there aside from a wrench and hammer dependent on some form of electronics? Don't get me wrong, like another poster said, the ISS is mainly to test to untested and uncertain - but what could practically be made out of nothing but plastics for use in space aside from hand tools?

Re:Interesting...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885079)

Isn't most everything that is being used up there aside from a wrench and hammer dependent on some form of electronics?

Huh? Lots of things 'dependent on some form of electronics' have plastic parts. Look around you. Easier to be able or fashion them there out of generic material than to have to have a suplly of every item, or ship individual replacements from Earth when they wear out.

Re:Interesting...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885095)

...in all serious what of practical use could be made outside of plastic hand tools? Isn't most everything that is being used up there aside from a wrench and hammer dependent on some form of electronics?

Don't get me wrong, like another poster said, the ISS is mainly to test to untested and uncertain - but what could practically be made out of nothing but plastics for use in space aside from hand tools?

Tell that to the Apollo 13 astronauts

Re: Interesting...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885195)

There are 3D printers that can use titanium as the raw material. An ABS plastic printer would just be the beginning.

Re:Interesting...but (4, Insightful)

only_human (761334) | about a year ago | (#43885289)

How about the time they needed to repair a satellite and had to custom rig a "flyswatter" (made from a window shade, a vacuum hose and a piece of plastic) to snag a lever on the rotating satellite?
Custom parts will always be needed for unanticipated situations.

Re:Interesting...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885523)

So MacGuyver-esqe, it brings a tear to my eye.

Re:Interesting...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886499)

The point MacGruber, is that with 3-D printing, they won't need your daddy.

Re:Interesting...but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885595)

How about they print the special tool but don't need it when the job is done. Melt the tool down and print a new tool. There would a certain advantage to being able to recycle the tools.

How (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885049)

How the fuck can you talk about this stuff when Jean Stapleton has just died?!?!?!?!

Wrong naming (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#43885103)

If they are for a space station, then should be named replicators (even if they will be version 0.01). You can't build the right future without using the appropiate names for things.

Re:Wrong naming (1)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43885205)

Someone seems to have already slapped a 'TM' on that [makerbot.com] ...

Re:Wrong naming (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43885645)

Solution: NASA Brand Replication Unit v0.001

The Public will just call it a replicator anyway and the trademark will get watered down like Kleenex when it enters common usage once the technology matures.

Re:Wrong naming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886911)

If they are for a space station, then should be named replicators (even if they will be version 0.01). You can't build the right future without using the appropiate names for things.

At first it'll be all fun and games with the vision of Star Trek replicators. But then the printers will start to make more printers and it'll turn into Stargate replicators.

NASA Conversation: (2)

TimO_Florida (2894381) | about a year ago | (#43885261)

"Uhhhhhhh.... ISS this is Houston. Why exactly are you downloading files named 'femalebodyparts.data'...."

Re:NASA Conversation: (3, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43885407)

"Houston, this is ISS. I've always wanted to finish downloading that in space, so I could say 'The Spread Eagle has landed.' "

Re:NASA Conversation: (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about a year ago | (#43887385)

"Huston, please send up one of these [amazon.com]

Thank you.

Re:NASA Conversation: (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year ago | (#43885603)

"Uhhhhhhh.... ISS this is Houston. Why exactly are you downloading files named 'femalebodyparts.data'...."

hmm what would be the consequences being caught downloading copyrighted torrents from the iss? i would think you are out of anyones juristiction.

Re:NASA Conversation: (1)

Longjmp (632577) | about a year ago | (#43885789)

hmm what would be the consequences being caught downloading copyrighted torrents from the iss?

I can see it already, the new TPB location [thepriatebay.iss]

Its only a model (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43885711)

Its often overlooked that even the best 3d printers can only produce something that is as strong and as as hard as the binding agent, so yes you could make parts out of corn starch or extruded abs its just not going to last very long in use.

Re:Its only a model (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#43885815)

I wonder why folks think they can use sand and plaster molds to make things out of metal? Everyone knows sandcastles don't stand up to wear and tear, and plaster is very brittle. It's just not going to last very long in use.

Re:Its only a model (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886877)

I'm not sure if that's sarcasm or ignorance.

Re:Its only a model (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#43887175)

cause they melt metal and fill the molds, they are not making a foundry on the ISS and there are cheaper and quicker ways of producing molds with more percision such as machining a one off part and packing sand around it tens of thousands of times.

spending hours to print a single digit inch cubed part that still requires machining (by hand or machine) thats going to last a fraction of that is simply stupid, hince why NASA is nothing more than a houmorous think tank wasting piles of money for no results after nearly 60 years.

 

Hope it won't be a space gun... (2, Funny)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year ago | (#43885805)

Still, what jurisdiction would care?

Re:Hope it won't be a space gun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43886941)

If the ISS orbits directly above my house even for a fraction of a second, I will still bitch if only for said fraction of a second. It's the principle of the matter that's important.

Re:Hope it won't be a space gun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887403)

Space Corps Directive 34124.

Here's my crazy ridiculous idea for the day... (1)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | about a year ago | (#43886789)

How about inventing/building a 3-D printer *IN* the ISS that takes advantage of the fact that there is zero gravity?

I mean, the print head could literally be floating and move in nearly any x/y/z direction freely. It would only need to be attached to the spool or whatever supplies the material to it, and a means of propulsion/movement within the space it is "printing" in.

Yeah, it's a silly idea and probably makes no sense. Just daydreaming.

Re:Here's my crazy ridiculous idea for the day... (1)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#43887093)

love the idea. it would be good to experiment with control systems.

earth based 3d printing relies on gravity to stick the shape to the bed and on a static structure to ensure accurcy.

in space its almost totally the control system

Re:Here's my crazy ridiculous idea for the day... (1)

r2kordmaa (1163933) | about a year ago | (#43887567)

As gravity is a non issue at iss, you could make a little hexapod robot(s) with a printing head that just crawls over the object its printing and adds material where needed. Sort of like a wasp building its nest.That way you lose all size limitations, given enough material and time you could even build stuff outside like new modules and whatnot. Lots of material engineering problems to solve obviously, but these are the kinds of things what you can do if you forget about the gravity problem

HAL armed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887053)

Mmmm, how long until someone gets shot in space?

Oh my... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43887841)

The 21st century version of the replicators. Star Trek huzzah!

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