NASA breakthrough improves 3D printing in space | Colin Neagle | | Inspirations |

One of the limitations of 3D printing has been its inability to use different types of materials while printing one product. This has been an obstacle for 3D printing in space travel, which sometimes requires parts composed of several different materials.


Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), alongside others from Caltech and Penn State University, recently put a new solution for this problem into practice, thus bringing 3D printing closer to space travel, one of the industries that stand to benefit the most from it.


The process allows a 3D printer to switch between different types of alloys, which could differ in density or melting temperature, while building one part. The project was inspired by NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission, the team behind the successful landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars in 2012, which sought a better method for utilizing parts made of different materials.


Similar processes have been developed in research and development projects. However, JPL mechanical engineer John Paul Borgonia said in a press release that this was the first time it’s been put to use to build a real-life part - the mirror mount shown below.


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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc