Monday, October 12, 2009

Space Fab

So here's the plan. NASA sends an "electron beam freeform fabrication" unit up onto the Space Station. Then, when the aging station needs a part, the fab just . . . prints it.
While the EBF3 equipment tested on the ground is fairly large and heavy, a smaller version was created and successfully test flown on a NASA jet that is used to provide researchers with brief periods of weightlessness. The next step is to fly a demonstration of the hardware on the International Space Station, Taminger said.


Future lunar base crews could use EBF3 to manufacture spare parts as needed, rather than rely on a supply of parts launched from Earth. Astronauts might be able to mine feed stock from the lunar soil, or even recycle used landing craft stages by melting them.

But the immediate and greatest potential for the process is in the aviation industry where major structural segments of an airliner, or casings for a jet engine, could be manufactured for about $1,000 per pound less than conventional means, Taminger said.

Environmental savings also are made possible by deploying EBF3, she added.

I need one of these to build me a new house.

Seriously, can you imagine what it would do to the housing market if all you needed to build a house was a set of plans, a 3-D printer, and a stock of raw material?



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2 Comments:

Blogger halojones-fan said...

"Seriously, can you imagine what it would do to the housing market if all you needed to build a house was a set of plans, a 3-D printer, and a stock of raw material?"

Yeah. Hel-lo Sprawl!

4:06 PM  
Blogger Lance Larka said...

As long as you don't mind taking an hour to print a nail you're golden :-)

These things are pretty much beefed up ink jet printers. Just different materials being deposited with the pizo nozzles. (ad curing, setting, forming, catalysis, etc. Lots of materials work still need to be done)

Great advantage when the nearest Home Depot is a space ship trip away...not so much when it's a prius ride down the street.

9:46 PM  

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