Off-world manufacturing is about to begin.
On Saturday, the first 3D printer designed to work in zero gravity will be launched into space, aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, for use on the International Space Station.
Designed and created by California-based startup Made In Space, Inc., the Zero-G 3D Printer has been in development since 2010. In July through September of 2011, the printer was subjected to three zero-gravity test flights in the infamous vomit comet to prove that it could operate in a microgravity environment like that of the space station.
In its new home aboard the International Space Station, this first iteration of the printer will enable scientists to study the long-term effects of zero gravity on the additive manufacturing process, as well as to print tools and parts.
Unlike some of the fancier Earth-bound printers, the Zero-G 3D Printer will use good old-fashioned ABS plastic, the same material used by most standard consumer models.
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