3D printing has become a more recognizable technology nowadays. But currently, it is still considered a niche area since commercial means of producing object using this technology is not yet available. But it does serve its purpose in specialized areas. It is now possible for people to print out 3D objects for certain parts not available readily in the commercial market. It becomes a very valuable tool especially in hard-to-reach places, like outer space for example.
The technology has somewhat given space travel a big boost with its ability to create different objects in 3D. In fact, NASA has been looking into its technology and has finally been able to create a 3D object in space. The 3D printing machine was designed by a company in California named Made In Space. It was develop specifically to work in microgravity, taking into consideration the challenges that space and weightlessness may offer. While it may be easier to design the machine, what provides as added challenge is how the materials used for creating 3D objects will react in space. But the Made In Space 3D machine was able to successfully print out the first 3D object, leading the way for developing the technology even further.
The Made In Space 3D printer uses thermoplastic ABS as primary material, just like other 3D printers here on Earth. The developers discovered that this material just has enough adhesion properties that make it stick together while cooling off. But more testing may still be needed in order to discover the limits of 3D printing in space. What is important that the NASA people have discovered that it is possible.
Soon enough, it will be easier for astronauts to create special parts that they need to repair and maintain the space station. It will be more feasible for longer missions to just bring the raw materials into space and recreate parts they need using 3D printing technology. In the near future, 3D printing technology may play a big role in the eventual colonization of space. You can only imagine the possibilities for now.