Challenges of 3D Printing in Space

3D printing is revolutionizing many industries. One in particular, aerospace, and its forecast to change how spacecraft is created.  Additive manufacturing is making the possibility of human colonization in space a realistic one. Though great strides have and are being made, some challenges of 3D printing in space remain.

Imperfect Surfaces and Outer Space Don’t Mix

Space requires a level of precision much higher than what works on Earth. Since 3D printing typically leaves imperfect surfaces…this wouldn’t fly.

 

Gravity, You Kind of Need That

Special considerations must be made if there is no gravity to hold layers together before they cool. The material must be sticky between layers so the 3D object stays together.

 

FDM Printing is Still the Best and Only Solution

Micro-gravity and FDM don’t go together. Not to say that FDM will always be the only option, but for now, it is.

 

Things Can Get a Bit Sticky

3D printed tools have been sticking to their plates, when printed in space. This has lead to not only a damaged part, but also a damaged printer. Though there have been many successful 3D prints in space, problems with this are still arising. The process has a ways to go.

 

Creating the Right Tools

Now you can pack lighter. Any “maybe” needed tools can just be 3D printed as needed. The difficult part here is deciding which can be labeled as a “maybe” needed tool. Many unexpected situations occur and are hard to prepare for.

 

Building “Homes” Could be a Logistical Nightmare

There are so many factors that have to be accounted for beyond perfecting the 3D printing technology. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning will be necessary to get the job done. Additionally, the machinery required for the projects will need to be protected from any potential outside threats like meteors, temperature changes and other environmental effects.

 

All of this ads to the challenges of 3D printing in space but don’t be discouraged.  Answers to said issues are being tackled as we speak. Read the full article here.

 

 

Categories: Aerospace