Imagine being 220 miles above the Earths surface when all of a sudden,blam, that extremely intricate, highly specialized and expensive part you need to complete you extremely specialized missions task up and breaks. Going back is out of the question,and not completing you experiment makes the trip a near failure. This is where space exploration was for a long, long time. However today N.A.S.A is asking “why not just print the part?” Across the board new frontiers are being embarked on in Tech norms.
In 2014 There we American astronauts for the first time who were able to print a tool, a ratchet wrench to be more specific. Using a design that N.A.S.A sent the file for from the Ground they were able to send the G-codes while the vessel flew through space at free fall speeds. If it seems like this is straight out of science fiction, well it kind of is. This is the principle to the Star Trek replicators, which allow the rapid creation of goods and materials at a moments notice to reduce the storage demand and allows for quick response to unforeseen problems.
“Unlike packaged food that floats in zero gravity conditions eD printed food can be neatly formed and ordered, said CEO of BeeHex Anjan Contractor. This man is posed with the task of developing a machine that can 3D print a pizza for space. This is going to be an even more difficult task than you might imagine given that fact that without the existence of gravity as an orientation point it makes it extremely difficult to 3D print at all. The existence of the food being 3D printable is that on the missions the individual Astronauts dietary needs are specific to themselves alone it is difficult to store and create meals for each person individually, not to mention not having a way to think of the fly and make changes is the health of the astronaut suddenly changes and the old food would not be optimal. With 3D printing allowing for an extremely high level of quality control and fine tuning they will be aloud to make changes on the fly and get the individual what they need.
When this is considered for what the future of manufacturing or production will look like in space the future seems very promising, considering the fact that in the future material mined from old satellites and even meteors and other space debris could be harvested as a means to be the basis of 3D printed products. The implications of this are huge, and remove much of the traditional problems we consider when thinking of space exploration. Mainly how to get materials out of the initial pull of the earths gravity out into the outer atmosphere. “a lot of the times the printed parts will need some cleanup work before they can be used” said Jeremy Irons Mechanical design engineer at Creative Engineering. Still that alone as being a means to do the heavy lifting of building in space is very promising and will be the future of what we think of when we think of space travel.