What did your last email comprise of and I won’t be surprised if you say a candycane, or a soccer ball instead of a doc file. The reason i am saying this is because NASA recently emailed a wrench to the fellow astronauts in the ISS ( International Space Station), quite literally so to speak.
Incredible as much as it sounds, the feat is one big leap into the future. Lets dive into the matter and see what actually happened.
The story inside
Our fellow astronauts dwelling in the ISS suddenly felt the need of a socket wrench and to their utter dismay, the tool box did not contained one. The message was conveyed to the folks at NASA. So what do they do? Well, this is NASA we’re talking about (remember the Apollo 13 malfunction). The solution: they emailed a CAD drawing of the wrench back to the ISS.
Befuddled? I too was at first.
Turns out that in September 2014, the International Space Station was equipped with a state-of-the-art 3D printer manufacture by Made In Space Inc. Pointless to mention that it could work in zero-g.
So, all they had to do was to come up with the coding that would make the 3D machine understand the requirement and act accordingly. Hence, the Made In Space professionals created the necessary command, emailed it to the folks at ISS via the Huntsville Operations Support Center, which was thereafter fed to the Zero-G 3D Printer. And, the rest is history.
With the recent developments in 3D printing technology, researchers have conqured in creating most of the stuff that we need in daily life. Local Motors, a online community involved in vehicle innovation recently unveiled the first fully-functional 3D-printed car at IMTS, Chicago on spetember 2014. The car is due for a worldwide production.
(Coming back to our primal point of discussion) Space printing has made its successful kickstart, but it has to go a long way. Still it can be said that, the line between science and fiction is blurring.