Additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing, is a fast and reliable way to manufacture small plastic pieces of any shape, which can be used for a variety of tasks. Portable On Board Printer 3D demonstrates an automated 3-D printer that produces plastic objects on board the International Space Station (ISS). Results from this experiment may pave the way for the installation of a full-sized 3-D printer on board the ISS in the future.
This research represents an initial step towards digital-and-automated manufacturing objects directly onboard the ISS , and other future manned spacecraft or planetary outposts.
This experiment consists of one automated-fabrication session producing one small object made of plastic. The research achieves an initial validation step for the introduction of this automated and flexible polymer forming technology on board the ISS, and for use as a promotion for further developments of 3D printing applications for use in space.