Launching a 3D printer into space just makes sense, right? Instead of catapulting an inventory of replacement parts into the cosmos, it seems better to ship raw material up there and 3D print whatever is needed. Not only that—rocketing objects into space is expensive, and extreme vibration carries the risk of major damage. Enter Made in Space: the company that intends to pioneer additive manufacturing in space.
And what better partner could a 3D printing service prospecting the final frontier find than NASA? When we caught up with Made in Space at the Inside 3D Printing conference in San Jose (Sep 17-18), they told us their basic plan—to qualify and test 3D printers for use in space, making necessary modifications until they reach full operation. There may be even more to the partnership between Made in Space and NASA. Company reps did not come out and say as much, so our suspicion of their long-term vision is speculative: we think they might learn from their experience with Nasa to begin offering commercial 3D printing services in space.
Think Shapeways, but instead of manufacturing your object on earth, you could have something manufactured in the space station and launched into space! Have you ever wanted a personal satellite? Do you have a product you want to test in zero gravity? Despite the inevitable regulations that would arise to address litter and other concerns, we believe that opportunities to create new products and assess 3D printing behavior in space are mind-blowing. What would you send into space?