Home Industry ESA to Send 3D Printer to International Space Station

ESA to Send 3D Printer to International Space Station

As mentioned in article last week, the European Space Agency has released a video about a 3D printed lunar base. To no one’s surprise they have recently announced that their own 3D printer will make its way to the ISS in the first half of 2015.

The POP3D (Portable On-Board Printer) 3D Printer is a cubical unit with 25 cm sides and can print PLA filament using a heat-based process. “It requires very limited power and crew involvement to operate”, explained Luca Enrietti of Altran, prime contractor for the project.

“Part of the challenge of designing a 3D printer for the Station was to ensure its operation does not affect the crew environment,” added Giorgio Musso of Thales Alenia Space Italy, principal investigator for the project.

The 3D printer will makes its way to the ISS during the Futura mission of astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who will be launched on her six-month station assignment on 23rd November. POP3D’s mission is to produce a plastic part within about half an hour that can be sent back to earth for testing and comparison with objects printed on ground.

The project was funded by the Italian ASI space agency and presented during a 3D printing workshop at ESA’s technical centre in the Netherlands, where over 350 experts gathered to discuss the potentials of the 3D printing technology for space.

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