Additive Manufacturing Facility Celebrates One Year Anniversary Operating Aboard International Space Station
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., April 3, 2017 -- Made In Space Inc. (MIS) recently celebrated the one-year anniversary (March 23, 2016) of the launch of its Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) to the International Space Station (ISS). Since the second-generation 3D printer was installed on ISS, 39 prints have been made for customers, ranging from medical parts for researchers, parts for NASA and commercial customers such as Lowe's and the Brazilian company Braskem, to STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) projects for students.
"I'd describe our prints last year as trailblazers, since they were all made in orbit for the first time and we were exploring how best to utilize AMF," said Matt Napoli, MIS vice president of In-Space Operations. "This year, we expect more advanced prints as we push the envelope of what's possible with it. We've started to print in a new, space-suitable material in PEI/PC (polyetherimide/polycarbonate), giving us the capability to manufacture stronger, more heat-resistant structures."
With its first 3D printer aboard ISS, MIS began printing in ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) in 2014. Last summer, MIS began printing in Green PE (polyethylene), supplied by Braskem, with AMF. MIS expects to print in many different materials in the coming years, as the company perfects manufacturing techniques needed for building large and complex objects in space. Further planned materials include metals, composites and carbon nanotube-doped materials.
The average AMF print takes a few hours for completion, with longer times based on print complexity. Napoli says the largest and longest print to date was a confidential part for NASA. AMF is capable of printing up to 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters by 14 centimeters.
Several firsts were achieved for AMF over the past year: the first STEM print for the Future Engineers program sponsored by NASA; the first print for NASA was an adaptor part for an Oxygen Generating System (OGS) used aboard the ISS during monthly oxygen level testing; the first commercial print was a microgravity wrench for Lowe's; the first print for the U.S. Navy, a hydroclip part used on radio wiring; and the first medical print with the fabrication of a finger splint design for a medical researcher.
"Every week we're operating with AMF aboard ISS," said Andrew Rush, MIS President and CEO. "That's really amazing when you think about it – manufacturing more and more complex parts with this core technology. Many people are still surprised when they learn our country is already making things in space. Our NASA customer has been great over the past few years, embracing this technology and supporting us its development. As we continue printing in stronger materials like PEI/PC, we'll start to see even more breakthrough achievements."
About Made In Space:
Made In Space, Inc. (MIS) is the industry leader for space manufacturing technologies, delivering next-generation capabilities in orbit to support exploration objectives and national security priorities. As the first commercial company to additively manufacture in space, MIS is advancing the commercial space economy through its expansive technology portfolio. With a focus on industrializing the space environment, MIS specializes in on-orbit manufacturing, space enabled materials development and exploration manufacturing technology. With offices in Florida, California, Alabama, and Ohio, MIS is empowering an elite workforce and domestic supplier base to realize the company vision of sustainably building off-Earth manufacturing capabilities to enable the future of space exploration. For more information about Made In Space, visit www.madeinspace.us.