How NASA Will Use 3D Printers In Orbit

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In June 2014, astronauts whizzing by high above us in the International Space Station may be able to print a highly detailed plastic Yoda head or, barring that, important parts that they may need while in orbit.

NASA has already designed and built their own additive manufacturing printer that has a build envelope of about a square foot. The video above shows just how they will use the printer and how they tested it in mircogravity. The printer will contain ready-made plans for common parts and they can also receive models from Earth if they need something special.

They will run the printer to make parts that “break or get lost” (where things can get lost of a space station is a different, far creepier matter) and they will be able to build various items in space to support experiments. In short, NASA now has the replication power of a 12th-grade classroom at a highly science-focused high school, which is pretty badass.

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