3d printing goes to space!


One of the great things for me about working in the technology industry is seeing first hand the innovations and ‘game-changing’ technology advances that are revolutionising the way people socialise, entertain and work.

Of the vast array of technologies that have captured our imaginations and affected social and work life culture, 3D printing stands out as one of the most inspiring inventions of the 21st century.

The concept of 3D printing has been talked about for some time, and is now becoming accessible, affordable and increasingly useful. In a recent episode of The Gadget Show, three domestic use 3D printers were put to the test to create a model of an ancient artefact from the British Museum. I was left amazed by how quickly and accurately the printers created this model. I remember thinking, “this is the future!”.

As this technology becomes widely adopted and accepted for mainstream domestic and professional use, you could be forgiven for thinking that the technology has advanced as far as it can. But news from NASA this week suggests otherwise.

NASA announced that 3D printing is going to be used to create mission critical parts and tools to make repairs on the International Space Station. Furthermore, the printers are even being considered for printing food for astronauts completing long-haul missions into outer space!

Dave Korsmeyer, director of engineering at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said: “If you want to be adaptable, you have to be able to design and manufacture on the fly, and that’s where 3D printing in space comes in.”

Korsmeyer’s comments are true of 3D printing, but also of other technology advances across the industry. The more we look for further applications for existing technology, the more barriers are broken and potential is realised.

Could this be the final frontier for 3D printing? I would say not, so watch this space…