New model of 3D-printer on ISS hopes to use material harvested from space

The first object to be 3D-printed in space has already come to pass. On November 24, a 3D printer by California company Made In Space aboard the International Space Station printed an extruder plate for itself, thereby completing its own construction.

The next object to be printed will be decidedly less memorable, but no less functional. Astronauts will print a buckle for use with straps designed to prevent muscle-loss in astronauts working in zero-G conditions. It will be printed in 2015.

“I became very intrigued,” Cagle said, “with what would happen if you could get the G [gravity] suit and actually used it to recondition the body.”

“Without the buckle, it’s just an Ace wrap that isn’t able to generate higher pressures that could protect muscles and nerves,” Cagle said. “The buckle is really the turnkey to lock together the different embodiments and design,” she added.

The buckle was designed in Autodesk by astronaut and flight surgeon Yvonne Cagle, who worked with MIS and for-profit school Singularity University to ensure that the design could withstand the stresses of space flight. … (Read more)