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3D printer sent to International Space Station

Made In Space’s Additive Manufacturing Facility has left earth for the International Station, where it will be used to research fabrication in microgravity.

Made In Space, which has partnered with NASA, told TechCrunch there are already 20 paying customers that will use the AMF. Researchers and technical institutes are keen to look at the possibilities of 3D printing in a space environment. This can only briefly be simulated on earth.

NASA is also interested in the possibilities of additive manufacturing to save weight on flights. According to the organisation, the cost of sending anything into orbit is roughly $US 10,000 per pound.

Being able to build things like replacement parts saves having the fly them up, at great cost.

“Space exploration is a lot like a camping trip—if something goes wrong or there’s an emergency, you’ve got to go home to fix it,” Jason Dunn, CTO and co-founder at Made In Space,told Wired.

“3-D printing will allow independence from Earth.”

Raw material sent into space can also be packed tighter than objects that have been pre-built.

According to Wired, three different types of plastic feedstock are making the trip to the “first off-world manufacturing facility”.

The Cygnus rocket containing the facility, which will be permanently headquartered on the space station, left on Tuesday 22, 11:05 pm EST, from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

MIS sent its first printer to the ISS in September 2014.

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