We‚Äôre going to need a lot of tools while expanding into space ‚Äď to build and maintain space stations and craft. However, the problem of finding possible ways to replace tools should they break has always been a worry.
But now scientists believe astronauts will be able to build unlimited replacements ‚Äď simply by printing them, writes The Daily Mail.
It may sound like science fiction, but a YouTube video shot by National Geographic demonstrates that the remarkable process is actually science fact.
The first time when 3D printing technology appeared was 1995. As in many other rapid prototyping processes, the part to be printed is built up from many thin cross sections of the 3D model.
According to Wikipedia, since 2003 appeared quite huge demand for 3D printers. Additionally, the cost of 3D printers has gone down.
Today the technology can be used in the fields of jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many others.
Scott Summit, a co-founder of Bespoke Innovations, the company which deals with 3D printers, explained: ‚ÄúI wanted to create a leg that had a level of humanity. It‚Äôs unfortunate that people have had a product that‚Äôs such a major part of their lives that was so underdesigned.‚ÄĚ
A 3D printer creates an object by stacking one layer of material ‚ÄĒ typically plastic or metal ‚ÄĒ on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.
‚ÄúWe are enabling a class of ordinary people to take their ideas and turn those into physical, real products,‚ÄĚ said J. Paul Grayson, chief executive of one more company, Alibre.
Mr. Grayson said his customers had designed parts for antique cars, yo-yos and even pieces for DNA analysis machines. ‚ÄúWe have a lot of individuals going from personal to commercial,‚ÄĚ Mr. Grayson said.
Theoretical physicist David Kaplan, from Johns Hopkins University, has visited a company called Z Corporation in Burlington, Massachusetts, which specialises in 3D printers that can make almost anything ‚Äď even with moving parts.
‚ÄúZPrinters set the standard for speed, color, affordability and ease of use.¬† Our 3D printers suit a wide variety of customer needs, from high school education through the most demanding commercial environments.”
“In addition, 3D Systems provides 3D printing materials to suit many applications,‚ÄĚ the company Zcorp promises on its website.
Today the company is a leading, global provider of 3D content-to-print solutions such as personal, professional and production 3D printers, integrated print materials and on-demand custom parts services for professionals and consumers alike.
Moreover, Z Corporation democratizes access and accelerate adoption of affordable 3D printing and provides creative content development, design productivity tools, curation services and content downloads.
The video shows a huge adjustable wrench is first of all scanned into a computer, down to the accuracy of 40 microns ‚Äď slightly less than the width of a human hair.
The image is sent to a printer that doesn‚Äôt use ink, but a ‚Äėspecially engineered composite material‚Äô that starts out as a powder and is then bound together with a type of resin. This is what the printed wrench is made from.
Within 90 minutes Dr Kaplan is shown a fully working, robust copy of the original wrench that even features the adjustable head. He said: ‚ÄúSo going into space, you just take a printer and you can print whatever you want.‚ÄĚ