A 3D printer on the International Space Station has created the first 3-D printed object in space, paving the way to future long-term space expeditions.
Niki Werkheiser, project manager for the International Space Station 3-D Printer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama said, “This first print is the initial step toward providing an on-demand machine shop capability away from Earth. The space station is the only laboratory where we can fully test this technology in space.”
NASA astronaut Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Expedition 42 commander aboard the International Space Station, installed the printerand conducted its first calibration test print. Based on test print results, ground control sent commands to realign the printer and a second calibration test was printed, which verified that the printer was ready for manufacturing operations. On November 24, ground controllers sent the printer the command to make the first printed part: a faceplate of the extruder’s casing. This demonstrated that the printer can make replacement parts for itself.