WeAreMadeInSpace10 karma2014-09-18 20:48:47 UTC
This contract was a fairly competed government contract with NASA, so yes, we had to beet out competitors. Our technology however is the only 3D printing technology developed for the space environment and has been tested for over 4 hours in the Zero-G Corp. airplane. Fun fact, it also works in lunar and Mars gravity!
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WeAreMadeInSpace7 karma2014-09-18 19:59:07 UTC
Yes, after testing commercial off-the-shelf 3D printers in micro-gravity simulating parabolic flights we found a number of issues that needed to be overcome. The printer we are launching now was built from the ground up specifically to operate in the closed-loop, zero gravity environment of the ISS.
WeAreMadeInSpace7 karma2014-09-18 20:04:59 UTC
The "ink" for this first printer is ABS plastic, it is stored as a solid filament wound around a spool. During the extruding process, the plastic becomes very soft but never quite liquid so it never has a chance to "go everywhere." It's also contained within an enclosure called a Environmental Control Unit (ECU) which further protects the surrounding environment in case something goes wrong.
WeAreMadeInSpace7 karma2014-09-18 19:59:08 UTC
Really, really well
WeAreMadeInSpace6 karma2014-09-18 20:10:08 UTC
Yes, although this will likely be done with our second printer which will have multiple materials and some designed especially for exposure to the vacuum of space. ABS plastic, the only material the first printer uses, degrades very quickly in space.
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