MIS' Additive Manufacturing Facility Cranks Out Stellar Year
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif., April 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 mateials.
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.
Photos of the OGS print are available here.
"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."
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SOURCE Made In Space
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