The Effects of Microgravity on Extrusion Based Additive Manufacturing
Michael, Snyder, et al. (2013). "The Effects of Microgravity on Extrusion Based Additive Manufacturing." AIAA SPACE 2013 Conference and Exposition
Made In Space, Inc. participated in four weeks of microgravity testing with NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program during the Fall of 2011 and Summer of 2013. The company tested the effects of microgravity on custom built and commercially available extrusion additive manufacturing machines, more commonly known as 3D printers. The testing took place on board a modified Boeing 727 aircraft flown by the Zero-G corporation, in conjunction with NASA’s Reduced Gravity Office and Flight Opportunities Program. The company has utilized the knowledge gained through this campaign on the project that will deliver the first 3D printer to the International Space Station (ISS). 3D printing in space is an enabling technology that is crucial to the exploration for space beyond the low Earth orbit environment. In order for 3D printing to finally be realized as a permanent fixture is space exploration, the behavior must be fully understaff in microgravity. Various 3D printers were flown and tested, as well as multiple individual sub-components. With some modification to the key systems, Made in Space was able to demonstrate that additive manufacturing with extrusion-based machines functions similarly in microgravity as it does on the ground, allowing for a full proof of concept. The microgravity flight enabled the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the technology to be elevated to a TRL-6.
DOI: doi:10.2514/6.2013-5439 10.2514/6.2013-5439