ISS astronauts use 3D printer to create wrench after Nasa emails design specifications

Astronauts on the International Space Station have used a 3D printer to create a new wrench, after Nasa emailed them instructions.

It is believed to be the first time Nasa has “emailed” an object to space. Previously, the space programme would take months flying a needed object up with the next mission.

The problem arose when International Space Station (ISS) commander Barry Wilmore mentioned on the radio he needed a ratcheting socket wrench.

He was overheard by a Californian company, Made In Space, who designed the 3D printer on board the space station. The printer was sent up two months ago – and first created a replacement part for itself.


Founder of Made In Space Mike Chen told the BBC:  “We had overheard ISS Commander Barry Wilmore (who goes by “Butch”) mention over the radio that he needed one, so we designed one in CAD and sent it up to him faster than a rocket ever could have.”

Although this is not the first object made in space (there have been 21) it is another important step forward allowing astronauts to be increasingly self-sufficient.

Read more: New astronauts, and caviar, arrive at ISS
ISS astronaut’s incredible return to earth captured on film
International Space Station visible to the naked eye
Video: Spacewalk outside ISS

The 20-odd objects created so far will be returned to earth and examined.

International Space Station Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore holds up the first object made in space with additive manufacturing

“We will use them to characterise the effects of long-term microgravity on our 3D-printing process, so that we can model and predict the performance of objects that we manufacture in space in the future,” Mr Chen told Wired.

3D Design Apps – Simplygon: Automagic 3D Print Optimization #3DThursday #3DPrinting

November 27, 2014 AT 8:00 am

3D Design Apps – Simplygon: Automagic 3D Print Optimization #3DThursday #3DPrinting

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A resource originally serving mostly the games industry has added new optimization options aimed towards 3D printing as well.

Simplygon: Automagic 3D Print Optimization:

…3D printing is awesome – allowing professionals and hobbyists to experiment, collaborate and creating prototypes with much faster turnaround time. It is a great way to receive valuable input and feedback as well as increase efficiency. 3D printing is however limited by many models not being intended for printing and therefore far from perfect. To be able to print successfully, models need to be converted, repaired and optimized. Simplygon has a unique understanding of CAD and 3D-scan meshes connectivity, topology and curvature, and will preserve the necessary details automatically giving you the high quality needed for your printing purposes. Simplygon will automatically create optimized models that are perfect for printing – regardless of printer type.

…Simplygon is developed by Donya Labs AB, a privately held company based in Sweden. Donya was founded in 2006 with the aim to be the premier developer of automatic 3D-optimization solutions. Today we are a leading provider in 3D game optimization and we remain dedicated to helping creators and users of 3D data across industries to optimize their content pipelines and streamline their workflows….

Read more about this service at Simplygon.

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!

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Have an amazing project to share? Join the SHOW-AND-TELL every Wednesday night at 7:30pm ET on Google+ Hangouts.

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