NASA has long realized the benefits of the 3-D printer and has also understood its ability to provide help in NASA on various space missions. There was talk that it was being considered for the space colony on the moon. That rather then bring mega tons of building materials along on the initial mission which would increase the fuel costs and stretch the spaceship abilities to the max, sending the astronauts with a space printer would allow them to use the lunar soil in constructing the habitats. (11”-14” lunar soil thick also provides safety from the radiation!)
But what about the ISS?
NASA is currently considering a 3-D printer for use up on the ISS. Not only would this allow the printing out of life-saving parts should an emergency present itself, but also would allow them to check on the use of the printer in space. Rather than waiting on the next cargo delivery, products would become immediately available. But wait, what else can the 3-D printer do?
That is something NASA intends to find out. They have given a grant of $125,000 for research into “food printer”, something that synthesizes foods from raw materials. Right now this concept is just that, a concept. But think ahead, food on the ISS? World hunger? Maybe food for a colony on Mars? Now think backwards. Could you have imagined a 3-D printer that does everything from medical devices to ears that hear, to habitats, to guns? NASA could be on to something!
But wait, have you heard that work has begun on the 4-D printer?