NASA Selects In-Space and Advanced 3-D Manufacturing Technologies for Funding

NASA is continuing to encourage the use of 3-D manufacturing technologies for use on Earth and in space through the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

In addition to funding two projects by Made in Space focused on glass alloys and structures for advanced interferometery missions, the space agency also selected six other additive manufacturing proposals for funding under SBIR Phase II.

The awards, which are worth up to $750,000 for as long as two years, are focused on expanding additive manufacturing (AM) to include the use of stronger plastics and metals as well plastics recycling and improving production on Earth. One company is developing the ability to print next-generation electronics aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Several of the proposals are developing materials and technologies that would be used in a new additive manufacturing system called FabLab that NASA will launch to the station. The new printer would use multiple materials instead of just plastic feed stock to print parts and tools.

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China Plans Launch of Permanent Space Station Around 2018

Artist's conception of China's Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)
Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

China plans to launch the core of its permanent Tianhe-1 space station around 2018, with full assembling of the multi-module facility due to be complete about four years later, officials said last week.

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NASA Selects 3D Plastics Recycling Projects for SBIR Awards

NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore installs a 3-D Printer in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA-TV)
NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore installs a 3-D Printer in the Microgravity Science Glovebox on the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA-TV)

NASA has agreed to continue funding the development of two projects aimed at turning plastic packaging waste into feed stock for 3-D printers aboard the International Space Station.

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Lowe’s Teams With Made in Space on 3D Printer

Lowe's Innovation Labs/Made in Space 3D printer in action. (Credit: Jim Sulley/Newscast Creative)
Lowe’s Innovation Labs/Made in Space 3D printer in action. (Credit: Jim Sulley/Newscast Creative)

MOORESVILLE, N.C., October 29, 2015 (Made in Space, Lowe’s PR) – Lowe’s Innovation Labs, the disruptive innovation hub of Lowe’s Companies, Inc., has partnered with aerospace company Made in Space, to become the first to launch a commercial 3D printer to space. The printer, the first permanent additive manufacturing facility for the International Space Station (ISS), will bring tools and technology to astronauts in space. At the same time here on earth, Lowe’s is launching the next-generation Lowe’s Holoroom – an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool that enables customers to envision the room of their dreams. (more…)

ISS 3D Printer Creates First Product

ISS Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first 3-D printed part made in space. (Credit: Made in Space)
ISS Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first 3-D printed part made in space. (Credit: Made in Space)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (Made in Space PR) — History was made on November 24th at 9:28pm GMT, when the first 3D printer built to operate in space successfully manufactured its first part on the International Space Station (ISS). This is the first time that hardware has been additively manufactured in space, as opposed to launching it from Earth.

“When the first human fashioned a tool from a rock, it couldn’t have been conceived that one day we’d be replicating the same fundamental idea in space,” said Aaron Kemmer, CEO of Made In Space, Inc. “We look at the operation of the 3D printer as a transformative moment, not just for space development, but for the capability of our species to live away from Earth.”

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Made in Space to Fly 3D Printer to ISS Next Year

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Made in Space will fly the first 3D printer in space next year aboard a SpaceX Dragon freighter, which will deliver it for use by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, CTO Jason Dunn announced on Saturday.

Dunn told attendees at the Space Hacker Workshop in Mountain View, Calif., that this will be the first time that humans will conduct manufacturing operations off the Earth. The 3-D machine will allow astronauts to print parts and components on orbit instead of having to ship them up from Earth.

The company, which is based at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field, Calif., has been working for three years to perfect 3D printers capable of working in microgravity gravity.  Dunn said the Made in Space has flown more than 400 microgravity parabolas to test out printers.

Made in Space was formed in 2010 by alumni of the Singularity University, which runs a summer program at NASA Ames in California.