Launch Week Thur Night Update: 3D Printer

I know, I know…I said there wouldn’t be a NASA post this evening because there are storms around. The good news is that the severe threat has been greatly diminished. We could see a strong storm or two overnight, but it’s pretty typical summer-like stuff.

So, I thought I would briefly share one more Launch Week post! You know you love this stuff! (ha)

When I had the opportunity to participate in a NASA social at Marshal Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama this past summer, I had the opportunity to see a 3-D printer.

The purpose of these printers for NASA is for missions that take astronauts far, far from home. Should they need to replace something, they will have the 3-D printer onboard that can print what they need! Got a broken screw? Print one. Lost the screwdriver while out on a spacewalk? Print another one. That’s right, you can print just about anything!

So, how does this work? The one I saw in Huntsville used little grains of metal that reminded me of BB bullets. Those grains cover a tray and then a laser runs over the metal grains in the pattern of what you need. It keeps doing this for layer after layer until what you need has been made. It can take a long time to print something complicated but that’s better than not being able to get it all.

The video below was shot by me. We all watched it for far too long! (ha)

There has been a 3D plastics printer onboard the International Space Station since 2014. It’s printed spare parts and even printed a wrench!

If I were you, I’d expect to this technology available more and more in your life. I wouldn’t be surprised if the day comes when you need a screwdriver….or a screw…or even a hinge…that you’ll just fire up the printer in the garage and print one off. Or, maybe someday stores won’t carry things that can be custom printed for you. You just go inside and tell them what you need and they print it off. No overstock. No extra inventory. No waiting on it to be shipped. Am I dreaming too big? We will see!

You all have a great evening and be sure and check out tomorrow’s Launch Week posts! I think they may be the best yet!

Launch is scheduled for 2:22 CDT Saturday afternoon. Chances for launch not being affected by weather are currently at 40%.


2 thoughts on “Launch Week Thur Night Update: 3D Printer

  1. The space station is experimenting with 3D printing of human organs. Take a sample of skin and print a kidney or a heart valve for someone on earth. Could save a lot of lives someday.


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