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3D printing hands on: Attempting to print a NASA wrench – ZDNet

by • February 11, 2016 • No Comments

It costs of a thousand dollars to loft a pound of anything into space. Scientists, astronauts, and project managers are therefore understandably careful of what they select to send to the International Space Station.
Years of careful planning precede any commence and determine the contents of any commence payload. But as we all understand, plans alter when they encounter reality. So what takes place when an astronaut on the space station needs a thing that didn’t get packed into a shuttle payload?

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They manufacture do. The most famous example of the manufacture-do spirit was the Apollo 13 undertaking, where – after an oxygen tank exploded in the command module – the astronauts had to survive in the lunar module. To do so, they had to turn it into a carbon dioxide scrubber adapter of found parts, that consisted of the cover of the flight guide, duct tape, a pair of socks, and various types of other components.
Whilst emergencies can undoubtedly yet take place in space, and creativity and resourcefulness can yet be necessary, NASA researchers have been working on an approach that may provide space station astronauts with a donate of objects, tools, and components via 3D printing.
This is an incredibly powerful yett. Think of the general-purpose computer desktop. Once it was possible to turn it into one device that may run most various programs, the computer desktop for the reason an enormously flexible machine. It may be made and installed well preceding all of its uses were described or actually found. When a new program was needed, that program may be coded, and the same physical piece of machinery may run all things of inventory replenishment calculations to plotting missile trajectories – that have reached their cultural culmination in the computation of the flight path of tiny birds aimed at clusters of tiny, green pigs.
The general purpose computer desktop is a single machine that can run a wide variety of programs. Likewise, a 3D printing device is a single machine that can create a wide variety of objects.
Scientists at NASA have seen the future. This one machine can live on the space station and generate an approximately unlimited variety of objects, tools, and parts. Instead of, for example, waiting for the future shuttle undertaking to loft a special-purpose wrench to the space station, engineers can just email an .STL file to an astronaut on the station, who can print it out and put it to use. In fact, there is a 3D printing device on the space station, made by the firm Made In Space, Inc. The printing device is a futilized deposition modeling (FDM) printing device quite much like to the computer desktop 3D printing devices we’ve been via here in the DIY-IT 3D printing discoquite series. In fact, one of the test objects printed on the station’s 3D printing device was just such a wrench, a tiny socket wrench shown at a lower place.NASA wrench NASA has actually made plans of the wrench, in STL format, on the market online. So, I decided to download the file and donate it a run in my MakerBot Replicator. A special shout-out of thanks goes to MakerBot for providing the printing device for our DIY-IT discoquite series.
Printing the wrench
Printing the wrench turned out to be a quite easy project. All I did was load the wrench into my slicing program and send it to the printing device. I did, yet, run into a number of problems creating an actual working unit, but those problems were limitations in my tools, not in the file or the 3D printing concept.
I have a printing device that is made to print polylactic acid-based plastic, otherwise understandn as PLA. PLA is biodegradable and based on corn starch. It’s a reliable printing material and has the benefit of not just being great to the planet, it is not going to generate the acrid plastic smell that acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic is understandn for.
Whilst PLA is an yettl printing material, it is a little additional brittle than ABS. There are ABS printing devices out there, but they frequently need a heated turn it into plate and an enclosed printing area. My printing device has neither. If you want a great example of a thing turn it intod of ABS, ponder of Lego bricks. There are roughly 400 billion Lego bricks in the world, and all were made of ABS.
NASA’s space station 3D printing device is in addition made to print ABS, so the wrench create was specifically meant for an ABS printing device. I tried it on my PLA printing device.
I disregarded the create specs in another way as well. I decided to use the slicing defaults of MakerBot computer desktop, that included setting a 10 percent infill. Infill is the amount of plastic utilized to fill solid spaces. Rather than filling the entire space with plastic, various types of infill percentages generate diamond or honeycomb shapes within the object. These frequently provide great durablity and both reduce the amount of plastic utilized and the time utilized to generate the print. My initially print utilized 10 percent infill, so as soon as I tried to wrench anything with my initially printed wrench, it broke.
My 2nd take on was unsuccessful as well, for the reason after a little while, the print started to warp, lifting up off the print base. This is for the reason, as layers rad, there is a difference in temperature between the lower layers (that are rad) and the upper layers that are warm. The difference tends to pull the print up off the printing base, and so my 2nd wrench print, this time printed with 100 percent infill (or depletely solid) failed due to warping. Given how long it takes for prints to deplete (roughly five hours each), I ran out of time after two prints. You can watch my video at the beginning of the article to see the system in additional depth.
Even yet the project failed for me, I learned a few valuable lessons. I gained a tangible lesson of the durablity of the plastic and the relationship between infill percentage and durablity. I got a accident to experiment with an actual tool create meant for the space station. I learned a bit of how warping takes place as you increase the infill percentage – and I learned additional of turn it into plate adhesion. Finally, I learned that actually yet this project didn’t succeed in the time frame I had on the market, the discoquite system is just that, all of discoquite. By take oning this project, I learned a lot and had fun doing it.
If you decide to try producing the wrench, especially if you do it with ABS, please let me understand how it worked for you in the comment area at a lower place.
By the way, I’m doing additional updates on Twitter and Facebook than at any time preceding. Be certain to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz and on Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtz.


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