The new industrial revolution might not take place on Earth. Nothing catastrophic, just that Made in Space announced the news that many have been waiting for: one of its 3D printers will be sent on board the International Space Station (ISS) in 2014. Simply put, the printer produced by the Californian start-up will be the first machine to print objects in zero-gravity conditions.
The use of 3D printers in space is an area of study taken seriously by NASA, especially with regard to travel to Mars. As the Washington Post reports, America’s space agency has given $125,000 dollars to fund the design of a machine able to print food starting from separate ingredients. In one of the simplest hypotheses, the printer could layer dough, tomato sauce and protein one over the other. All in all, a special pizza.
Made in Space, however, has different goals. The 3D printer that should leave the planet in 2013 must play the role of a universal factory. The idea is simple: an astronaut who needs to replace a part critical to the functioning of the ISS will no longer have to wait for supplies from Earth. He will be able to simply select the right file and start printing directly in space.
As Jason Dunn – president and co-founder of Made in Space – says in the video filmed for TEDXEmbryRiddle, his mission is to help humans to colonize new space frontiers. The 3D printer at zero gravity is just a small step in this ambitious plan, but he is certainly not the only key player in this extraterrestrial adventure.
Many makers want to go into space. We have often talked about Enrico Dini and his plan to build moon bases with a 3D printer. If his technology is successful, together with other technologies it would be able to provide space pioneers with an endless series of tools to face distant moons and planets. They will simply need to find a way to connect with the Earth and let us know that everything is going with flying colours.